Chamber offers beautification incentives

Chamber offers beautification incentives

Reimbursement and discounts available through B4 program

Joe Dowdell got a little help from his friend June Thacker and Master Gardener Linnea Cunningham this week with improving his building’s façade. For less than $100 and in about three hours, they trimmed hedges, spread mulch and fertilized the flowerbeds in front of Dr. Keiffer’s dental practice in Marathon.

For Middle Keys business owners that have skimped on their façade maintenance budget in recent years, it’s time to pull out the old plans for a little summer sprucing up.

The Marathon Chamber of Commerce is offering 10 grants of up to $1,500 for its membership to apply a fresh coat of paint to their building, hang that new sign they’ve been eyeing or even patching leaky roofs or repairing spauling.

Chamber CEO Daniel Samess admitted he’s hoping some of the membership will go all out and capitalize on the notable discounts offered by fellow local businesses.

“A fresh coat of tar or black top can really make a difference,” Samess noted, pointing to the parking spaces fronting Marathon Liquor and Deli. “What a great concept for businesses to beautify their exteriors while giving our service businesses that sometimes a little more challenging for the Chamber to promote more work during the summer.”

Thus, the Business-By-Business Beautification follows on the heals of a $10,000 donation to the City of Marathon nearly three years ago towards the “Median Beautification” project that’s recently resulted in the long-anticipated installation of palm trees in portions of the U.S. 1 median.

B4 as it’s been dubbed, is aiming to help businesses revamp, improve and repair the exterior appearance of buildings, facades and landscaping.

The one-page application, available at the Chamber office and through weekly email blasts to the membership, must be submitted by Friday, July 15. Participating businesses will then have until September 30 to complete any beautification efforts on their respective properties.

For example, a $5,000 project, with a possible $1,500 reimbursement and as much as half off materials and services, has the potential to cost as much as half of the estimated cost out of a business owners pocket.

Samess said reimbursable expenses may include building façade improvements not excluding masonry repairs, painting, stucco, surfacing, repair, redesign, architectural additions, cleaning and pressure washing; landscaping (both installation of new foliage as well as cleanup of existing plants, trees and shrubs); roofing and awning improvements; installation of public art; and parking lot improvements.

The Chamber board judging the grant applications may still consider other improvements outside the aforementioned parameters.

“Applicants should attach renderings, blue prints and any additional materials they may have available,” he continued, adding that the reimbursement grants could even cover the costs of materials and labor on smaller scale projects.

“We are trying very hard to encourage businesses to engage in this program,” Samess added. “If successful, we hope to emulate this program on an annual basis and spark greater unity among local businesses to “look their best” and show an overall improvement in our community’s appearance.”

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