Three Fox Lake businesses to receive facade improvement grants

FOX LAKE – An insurance company, a gas station and a boat dealership will be the first businesses to take advantaged of a revived facade improvement program.

The Fox Lake Village Board approved the three applications at its meeting Tuesday evening.

Under the program, which was retooled and allocated $30,000 in funding last year, businesses can apply for a matching grant of up to $4,000 to help pay for permanent facade improvements, including signage, awnings, brick cleaning, landscaping, replacing doors and windows, and painting.

Any business in a lot zoned for business or manufacturing can qualify for the program. Some improvements don't qualify for the full $4,000 match.

Two of the businesses requested and were approved for the full $4,000.

Fox Lake Harbor, a boat dealership at 400 E. Grand Ave., expects to spend about $20,000 on new signage, decorative exterior lighting, replacing or repairing its siding and painting, according to its application.

The Shell gas station at 54 E. Grand Ave. plans on spending nearly $11,000 on new exterior lighting, its application said.

State Farm Insurance, located at 42 E. Grand Ave., was approved for $571.50 to help cover new signs, according to board documents. The company plans on making more than $2,200 worth of improvements.

The village has enough money set aside to cover grants for another nine businesses, Village President Donny Schmit said. So far, no applications have been rejected and several are still under review.

The program will "help our business owners improve the appearances of their businesses and do the necessary upgrades," he said. "Some of the signs are old and in need of repair."

The facade program was one of the steps the village took last year to boost economic development.

Schmit credits another of those changes – the hiring of an economic development company – with bringing in several new businesses, including a couple restaurants, a general merchandise store, an electronic cigarette store and an ACE Hardware, which is set to open May 1.

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