Helping Small Businesses

Owning a small business is not a venture for the weak at heart. It takes daily commitment, long hours, a passion to succeed and a huge amount of sweat equity. Small businesses contribute to local economies by bringing growth and innovation to the community and government figures show that small businesses create 75 percent of new jobs. See Lancaster assists local businesses by contributing to conditions that enhance livability and tourism through support and creation of cultural events, promotion and business resources.

An example of resources available to businesses in the city of Lancaster is a Facade Grant Program, which allows building owners to make improvements to enhance and add value to their properties. Recently expanded to include more of the commercial shopping district, the program reimburses businesses for expenses such as awnings, signage, paint and window glass. See Lancaster is committed to aiding owners in maintaining beautiful, modern storefronts to attract visitors and customers. Our program offers assistance with “before and after” renderings provided by an architectural design firm, guidance through the grant application process and promotional support on a daily basis. A Design Committee meets monthly to review applications and facilitate the grants. While the grants are limited to $2,000 reimbursable approved expenses, the majority of applicants are able to completely renew their storefront’s appearance. An advantage is the “no-match-required” condition of the small grant, which allows even “start-up” businesses to achieve a unique identity to attract customers. Funding for the program is not generated by tax revenues and fluctuates from year to year, assisting nearly 50 building owners in the past three years.

First-time visitors to Lancaster’s downtown shopping district often remark on how much pride the owners apparently take in keeping their buildings “neat and pretty.”

When SC Main Street Managers convene and walk through downtown, questions arise on how to duplicate this in other communities. When we hear these things, we are happy to report that our shopping districts are simply a reflection of the hard-working business owners, who contribute to its strength and beauty on a daily basis.

See Lancaster’s ability to assist them with beautification is just a small element of the overall success and we take pride in being able to offer this resource. We invite you to take a ride through our town and enjoy recent examples such as Café Taylor, At Home by Casey, Ebony Expressionz Dance Studio and Shropshire Electric.

Look for more improvements coming soon and join us in showing appreciation for the multitude of small businesses that are thriving in our downtown.

By Cherry Doster, Published in The Lancaster News