Presque Isle municipal leaders are VENTURING OUT on a new program that they hope will bring more storefront business to the downtown. As Shawn Cunningham reports, improving the looks of the outside of a business might bring more green inside.
Jason Michaud is filling orders for the takeout lunch crowd. It’s a busy time of day for the Pizza Box businessowner. But busy means business is good. Its what all businessowners strive for.=
“Being a businessowner is tough, I know I’d like to see more businesses, mean more jobs, more money into the economy,” says Michaud.
That sentiment is also shared by Presque Isle Municipal leaders. The city has launched a facade improvement loan program targeted to commercial building owners and tenants. The city will loan up to 25 thousand dollars to make all kinds of exterior upgrades to downtown located businesses that will hopefully improve the look…and attract more patrons.
“We push this concept of downtown revitalization trying to make improvements, fix up public infrastructure and so we’re on the course of that,” adds Ken Arndt, the Director of Planning & Development for the City of Presque Isle.
Merchants agree saying they do want more businesses and storefronts to open up downtown. The façade project is certainly one incentive, but something else is needed continued support from the city.
Business owners like Stewart Libby say the city has been very supportive of existing businesses and new ones wanting to open shop. But even with city support, there are always challenges.
“Its hard for them to know what to do for us cause its not an obvious thing they tried some things they thought might be helpful but didn’t come off the way they had intended,” says Stewart Libby, the Owner, Stew’s Downtown Sight & Sound.
“Its tough being a small business owner I’d like to see them stay open I don’t want to see any close,” adds Michaud.
Arndt says business owners who take advantage of the façade loan program can pay the money back over five years. He says other issues the city is working on include improving pedestrian safety and fixing sidewalks.