Grant money will refurbish rural businesses

Richard Froese
South Peace News

Five businesses in Big Lakes County are the first recipients of a new county grant to refurbish businesses.
Grants of $2,000 each for Faust General Store, Korner Kitchen in Faust, EC Bar Ranch near High Prairie, Obsession Beads in Faust and Shady Orchard and Winery, also near High Prairie, were approved by council at its regular meeting May 11.
The business refurbishment grant program was adopted in 2021 as council budgeted $10,000 in the program in its 2022 budget to offer businesses a chance to improve their physical and/or online appearance.
Improvements are intended to address some of the issues from the 2019 visitor-friendly assessment, said Brett Hawken, director of community and protective services.
Council received 17 applications but only 14 met the eligible criteria, he noted.
“In order for the businesses to receive the funding, they must complete the project they applied for and submit invoices and ‘after’ photos to show the local improvements they did either physically or online,” Hawken said.
The five applicants were recommended by the Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority.
North Gilwood – Triangle Councillor Jim Zabolotniuk was concerned that some might not want to proceed with the project if they didn’t receive more funding from council.
Hawken replied the policy reads the county may award up to $10,000 for a grant.
“They have to complete the project to get the $2,000.”
He reminds council the policy may be changed.
“This is still a work in progress,” he noted.
Faust General Store plans to improve its building with new siding and roofing and build a wheelchair ramp, the summary of applicants states.
Korner Kitchen plans to replace the existing storefront entryway door and the rear entryway door.
EC Bar Ranch plans to refurbish its office on Highway 2 by constructing a cement front entry to replace the current planking, add a roof to cover the shipping container building with an awning to shelter cement entries and paint the building exterior.
Obsession Beads plans to create more effective online presence for a business that designs and creates Aboriginal jewelry and implement a more efficient shipping system.
Shady Orchard and Winery plans to build a wheelchair access to the building, create highway signage, remodel the website with a new logo, to display awards won, new products, services available and improve online shopping.
The previous council adopted the policy at its regular meeting Aug. 25, 2021 after the proposal was discussed by Big Lakes County Economic Development Authority at its meeting March 30, 2021.
Successful projects will strive to make visible improvements to the appearance, design and function of a business by addressing winter conditions, creating sidewalks or alley ways that are lively places filled with people, build COVID- friendly outdoor and indoor adjustments, exemplify innovative and artistic design, undertake general cleaning of the building exterior or signs, repaint faded and peeling paint, and improve online presence on a website.

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