08/28/13 — Incentive grants to help downtown businesses

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Incentive grants to help downtown businesses

By Matt Caulder
Published in News on August 28, 2013 1:46 PM

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The Matchbox restaurant is expected to open on John Street in the next month or so. The business is being helped by a grant from the Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp.

Matchbox, a wood-fired pizza restaurant and oyster bar from the same owners as the Brown Bag Cafe on Patetown Road, is expected to open on John Street in the next six to eight weeks after construction delays held up the projected spring opening.

Matchbox is slated to receive economic incentive funds in the form of a $4,800 incentive grant awarded in $400 increments every month for 12 months beginning after the business has been open for six months.

The grant pays until the business has been afloat for 18 months.

If the business were to close before the 18-month mark, then the payments would stop but the money would not need to be repaid.

The Downtown Goldsboro Development Corp. board of directors voted to award owners Stephen Rhodes and Andy Mitchell the grant last year. The construction delays will not affect the grant.

There are no stipulations on how the money is used, but the businesses are encouraged to use the funds for marketing, said DGDC Director Julie Metz.

Marketing is something that many small business owners neglect to budget enough for, especially in their first year.

"It's a small amount, but it's really just a little incentive to help them with overhead through that first year," she said.

The grant is awarded after a lengthy application process that looks at business plans and involves efforts by members of the board's economic restructuring committee to help owners make improvements.

Brown Bag Cafe owners Rhodes and Mitchell secured a lease on the former Lotus 1899 location at 104 and 106 N. John St. to open their new restaurant, which will offer burgers, fine wines and craft beers in addition to pizza and oysters in an upscale restaurant atmosphere.

"It'll be a trendy little place, Ms. Metz said. "It's exactly the kind of business we want downtown, something that will attract a younger crowd and will continue to add to the attraction of John Street. It also brings in young investors to downtown and adds a kind of vibrancy and sustainability to downtown."

The two men, in addition to their Brown Bag Cafe in the Brick Village on Patetown Road, also are expected to open a Brown Bag Cafe Express next door, at 104 N. John St., along side of Matchbox.