Niles DDA Main Street announces return of Match on Main grant program

Published 9:20 am Wednesday, January 26, 2022

NILES — A statewide grant program that has helped several downtown businesses in the past has returned once again.

Niles DDA Main Street announced Monday that the Match on Main grant program is back for a second round of funding.

Provided by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Match on Main is a reimbursement grant program that provides funding to support an eligible small business desiring to launch or grow by providing up to $25,000 for eligible activities.

According to the MEDC, eligible activities include but are not limited to:

  • Expenses for technical assistance items for design and layout of interior or exterior space, such as conceptual renderings of the interior or exterior floor plan, merchandise layout, other interior or exterior design concepts, and construction drawings, plans or specifications for interior or exterior space activation.
  • Expenses for interior building renovation items, including rehabilitation of floors, walls, ceiling, rooms, electrical improvements, lighting and lighting fixtures, furniture and display renovations, installation of a permanent kitchen or other equipment, and/or fire suppression or other code compliance items.
  • Expenses for permanent or semi-permanent activation of outdoor space, including a dining area, beer garden, or other place-based outdoor activation deemed acceptable by the MEDC. Exterior signage, doors and windows may be permitted as an eligible expense if part of a larger outdoor space activation project.
  • Expenses for permanent or semi-permanent business infrastructure related to COVID-19 recovery efforts such as items that promote the health and safety of employees and customers (Plexiglas barriers, curbside service windows, etc.).
  • Expenses for general marketing, technology to assist in connecting with customers (website upgrades or e-Commerce integration), operational changes (shifting from dine-in to carry-out), the purchase of a point-of-sale system, or inventory expenses for retail goods.

The program is administered and managed by the DDA, which will choose one eligible business per application with a maximum of two applications submitted per funding round.

“Small businesses are the cornerstone of what makes Michigan’s downtowns unique and authentic,” reads an excerpt from the MEDC’s Match on Main page. “This program aligns with the MEDC’s strategic focus areas, including the continued effort toward developing attractive places.”

According to Lisa Croteau, the DDA’s director of marketing and administration, Niles was one of two communities in the state chosen to pilot the Match on Main program in 2019. Several downtown businesses have taken advantage of its funding since, including Apothica Teas, Iron Shoe Distillery, Niles Brewing Company, SLR Pilates and Gabrizio Italian Bakery and Café.

Croteau is reaching out to downtown business owners interested in pursuing Match on Main funding.

“We were thrilled and blessed to be one of the pilot programs and have taken advantage of it almost every round,” she said. “We’re working to see if anybody out there has something in the works we can help to turn into a grant application.”

Croteau said the MEDC prefers approved Match on Main projects to align with the entity’s transformational strategy, which in the DDA’s case is an emphasis on local food.

“Many of the grants we’ve received were for local food businesses. The outlier was SLR Pilates, and the case we made for them was that a 24-hour gym would help us increase the number of people coming downtown after 5 p.m.”

Applications open Monday, Feb. 7 and close Wed., March 9. Downtown businesses with projects in mind are asked to contact Niles Main Street DDA at (269)-687-4332 or email lcroteau@nilesmi.org.