LISC Indianapolis Invests $280,000 in Local Small Businesses

The Phoenix Theatre is one of dozens Small Business Façade Program awardees this year. Staff of the theater pose with their new façade and awning.

Grants will be used to revamp small business commercial facades throughout Indianapolis

LISC has awarded matching grants to 35 local businesses through its Small Business Façade Improvement Program. This year’s commitments total $280,000 and are helping to leverage over $1.2 million in total building and façade improvements. Doubled support by the City of Indianapolis provided the financial capital for 13 additional awards over last year’s total, strengthening the program’s overall impact. Other sponsors include Chase, State Farm and the Indianapolis Neighborhood Housing Partnership.

The Small Business Façade Improvement Program is one of the largest, well-established façade initiatives in the country focusing on small business revitalization in distressed neighborhoods. It is also the only small grant program available to small businesses in our city. Business owners receive reimbursement for up to half the total cost of work and pro bono architectural consultation when needed. Awards range from $500 to $20,000, contingent on the scope and scale of the individual project.

The program is a key component of LISC’s Fostering Commercial Urban Strategies (FOCUS) program, which focuses directly on building sustainable relationships between community members, businesses and neighborhood stakeholders that drive revitalization efforts in urban commercial districts. Over its first decade, FOCUS has provided 350 small businesses with façade improvement grants, totaling more than $1.9 million in direct investment and leveraging over $6.8 million in matching private funds. FOCUS and the Small Business Façade Improvement Program are critical to job creation, business retention and neighborhood revitalization. By providing guidance and resources, LISC continues to help neighbors build communities through a comprehensive development approach.

LISC awarded over $40,000 to long time area businesses such as: Gilpin Glass, Abell Engineering, and Majestic Stone on East Washington Street.  These represent three of several beneficiaries whose storefront renovations will contribute to the enhancement of this important corridor. Cornerstone Bakery and Sunshine Maintenance are two awardees that will undergo façade and signage improvements in the Near North area – leveraging their location along the Cultural Trail and Meridian corridor. Tax Masters Plus, located just south of Fall Creek on Meridian Street, is another example of a near north business whose services have are very beneficial to area residents. They will benefit from a Community Development Block Grant of $20,000 to revamp the entire storefront of their locale. A third cluster of awardees is located in Fountain Square – an excellent example of a community that has seen a dramatic increase in business investment over the past ten years. New businesses to benefit from the funds include Wildwood Market, The Lift, Hotel Tango Whiskey and Milktooth.

This year’s façade improvement projects will aid in strengthening business and neighborhoods. Every awardee is required to work in collaboration with their local community organizations. This nurtures better connections between businesses and residents, and encourages community collaboration and quality design.

To learn more about LISC’s FOCUS program and Small Business Facade Improvement Program, visit the website or contact Senior Program Officer Rachel McIntosh.