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New Kansas Main Street Incentives.

Jessica Buchholz by Jessica Buchholz, Events Coordinator | March 10, 2021
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The reformation of the Kansas Main Street program within the Kansas Department of Commerce promised to provide new technical and financial resources for Main Street communities and members. Everything was derailed with the pandemic, but the state worked hard behind the scenes to provide communities with a new slate of incentives that could stimulate modern investment needs. The following are some of the new programs that businesses and/or developers can apply for through Emporia Main Street:
Downtown Housing Development:
Program Intent: The goal of the DHD grant program is to encourage remodeling & repair work in the upper floors of commercial buildings in local Main Street districts consistent with proven Main Street practices, including those that retain unique historic elements & use “green” materials. The expected outcome of this program is to create new housing opportunities in downtown commercial districts; acquire, rehabilitate or preserve properties; and create a stronger tax base.
The Emporia Main Street program may receive a single award up to $15,000. The grant funds must be matched and will be available to the property owner as a zero-interest loan. The local Main Street program must be the applicant on behalf of the local property owner(s) as the grant beneficiary.
A minimum cash match of 3:1 ($3.00 of private investment to $1.00 of state investment) is required for each grant awarded. Non-cash or in-kind match is not allowed. Non-cash match includes the value of sweat equity (labor provided by the recipient or their immediate or expanded family, friends or employees at no cost) regardless of whether that person performs such a service as a legally operating business. Non-cash match also includes the value of gifts of equipment or materials used during any part of the project. In-kind match includes the value of any labor, materials or equipment provided at no cost to the DHD recipient. Additional consideration is given to applicants providing more than the minimum match requirement.
No local program can receive more than $15,000 per round. Since projects are competitive, there is no guarantee that requested funds will be made available or that the cap will be met. Projects with special historical significance that are capital intensive and may require a multi-year or phased-in approach may be considered for additional awards based on first award performance, demonstrated continued need and availability of additional DHD funds. No more than three awards may be made to a single multi-phased project. Match money may only be used once on any project; if additional awards are sought, all new match money must be provided. The Kansas Main Street office has the final decision on funding any project.
Eligible Use of Funds
• The acquisition or rehabilitation of properties in connection with private reinvestment in a designated downtown area with the specific intent of creating and/or improving upper-floor housing.• Any project that can be shown to lead directly to housing creation or retention specifically in upper floors of existing buildings in the designated downtown area.
Ineligible Use of Funds
• Public improvements and public or private infrastructure.• Projects that have already been started or completed.• Projects that do not meet the minimum private investment match.• Landscaping projects on public or private property, including paving, plants, trees, fencing, etc.• Any licensing, insurance, taxes or other expenses considered to be a cost of doing business.• Any project outside the boundaries of a designated downtown district.• Any project that does not meet Main Street design criteria as outlined in the local or state Design Manual.• Any project that could/would be completed without the assistance of DHD funds.
Eligibility
Only active, designated Kansas Main Street programs that meet Main Street America standards for accreditation will be eligible to apply on behalf of a project.
Applicant Responsibilities
Potential applicants should submit an Intent to Apply through Emporia Main Street by March 15, 2021. The Intent to Apply will help with capacity planning for the grant process. Completing an Intent to Apply does not obligate an organization to submit an application, nor does not completing an Intent to Apply prevent an organization from submitting an application. Applications are due into the Kansas Main Street office no later than April 16, 2021.
The property owner will include all bids, architectural drawings and business plan for the application. The local Main Street program will write and submit the application. Kansas Main Street staff will review all applications for eligibility, project impact within the designated Main Street district, design appropriateness and innovation. Successful applicants will be notified in writing of the grant awards.
If project is funded, the property owner must complete the project as presented in the application, supply the local Main Street program with receipts verifying funds were spent on the applied-for project and make loan repayments in a timely manner and in accordance with the loan parameters established by the local Main Street program.. The funds are public money and, as such, are part of the open records act.
Re-Imagine Downtown Grants:
Program Intent: The intent of the Re-Imagine Spaces program is to “temporarily activate vacant and underused spaces through the arts.” Eligible use of funds for this program are defined by the National Endowment for the Arts and generally cannot be used for construction or renovation expenses. The Re-Imagine Downtown grants can be used to offset some of the renovation or rehabilitation costs that are not covered per the NEA requirements.
The Emporia Main Street program may receive a single award ranging from $2,000 to $6,000. The funds must be matched and will be available to the property owner as a zero-interest loan. The local Main Street program must be the applicant on behalf of the local property owner(s) as the beneficiary.
A minimum cash match of 3:1 ($3.00 of private investment to $1.00 of state investment) is required for each grant awarded. Non-cash or in-kind match is not allowable. Additional consideration is given to applicants providing more than the minimum match requirement.
No local program can receive more than $6,000 per round. Since projects are competitive, there is no guarantee that requested funds will be made available or that the cap will be met. The Kansas Main Street office has the final decision on funding any project.
Eligible Use of Funds
• The acquisition or rehabilitation of properties in connection with private reinvestment in a designated downtown area with the specific intent of creating and/or improving arts and cultural amenities within the downtown district.• Types of eligible arts/cultural projects include artists studios, galleries and exhibition spaces, performance spaces, art installations and pop-up cinemas, to name a few.
Ineligible Use of Funds
• Public improvements and public or private infrastructure.• Projects that have already been started or completed.• Projects that do not meet the minimum private investment match.• Landscaping projects on public or private property, including paving, plants, trees, fencing, etc.• Any licensing, insurance, taxes or other expenses considered to be a cost of doing business.• Any project outside the boundaries of a designated downtown district.• Any project that does not meet Main Street design criteria as outlined in the local Design Guidelines.• Any project that can/will be completed without the assistance of Re-Imagine Downtown funds.
Downtown Entrepreneurial Development
Program Intent: The Downtown Entrepreneurial Development Program would provide funding for incubator projects or entrepreneurs who want to start or expand their business in Kansas Main Street communities. Funds would be loaned on a 1:1 basis to support such things as expanding inventory, developing a new or enhanced marketing and promotional program, or growing e-commerce.
The Emporia Main Street program may receive up to three, $2,000 grants. The grant funds must be matched and will be available to the property owner as a zero-interest loan. The local Main Street program must be the applicant on behalf of the entrepreneur/business owner as the grant beneficiary.
A minimum cash match of 1:1 is required for each grant awarded. Non-cash or in-kind match is not allowed. Additional consideration is given to applicants providing more than the minimum match requirement. Businesses already located in the downtown business district, or those that have been previously located downtown within the past five years, are not eligible. No local program can receive more than $6,000 per round. Since projects are competitive, there is no guarantee that requested funds will be made available or that the cap will be met. The Kansas Main Street office has the final decision on funding any project.
Eligible Use of Funds
• The purchase of inventory• Marketing and/or promotional development and implementation• Web site and social media development• Creating or expanding e-commerce Ineligible Use of Funds• Public improvements and public or private infrastructure• Projects that do not meet the minimum private investment match• Landscaping projects on public or private property, including paving, plants, trees, fencing, etc• Any licensing, insurance, or taxes• Businesses that will not be located within the boundaries of a designated downtown district• Business that can/will open or move downtown without the assistance of DED funds• Paying off debt or other previously made expenditures
The new Kansas Main Street incentive programs focus on sustainability, accountability, partnerships, and flexibility in creating more vibrant cities through the development of strong community cores. If you are interested in applying for any of the programs mentioned above, please contact Emporia Main Street.

About the Author

Jessica Buchholz, Events Coordinator

Jessica Buchholz is the Community Development Coordinator for Emporia Main Street in Emporia, Kansas. She specializes in event planning, volunteer recruitment, alternative marketing, media/public relations and fundraising. During Jessica's tenure at Emporia Main Street, she has helped grow events to an international level and she has created a series of new activities to meet organizational goals.

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