Niles approves grant application for community development projects

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, April 27, 2022

NILES — More community development projects could be on the way for the City of Niles.

The Niles City Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the submission of a grant application for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s Revitalization and Placemaking Program.

RAP is an incentive program that will deploy $100 million in American Rescue Plan funding to address COVID-19 impacts in Michigan communities. The MEDC released the RAP Grant Tuesday, April 19 and will award the grants in maximum amounts of $5 million for an individual project or a maximum of $20 million for a regional grant application. 

The RAP grant program requires a 50 percent match. According to City Administrator Ric Huff, the municipal projects will be matched using ARPA funds and the private projects will require the applicant to match using its funds.

Huff and Niles Main Street/Downtown Development Authority Director of Marketing and Administration Lisa Croteau have been working with Berrien County Community Development and Cornerstone Alliance to submit a regional application with multiple projects in Niles and Benton Harbor. 

Niles will be a sub-recipient of Berrien County, with municipal projects requiring council approval before being finalized.

“We believe a well-structured regional application with municipalities who have a history of working with MEDC will score better than an individual application,” Huff stated in a memo to the council. 

Roughly $4 million in projects – both municipal and private – have been identified in Niles with an additional $6 million pending, per Huff. 

Members of the council are hopeful the application is accepted and that the potential funds will be used toward needed projects.

“Fingers crossed because that’s a lot of really cool development,” said councilwoman Gretchen Bertschy. “It’s an opportunity for local small businesses to get some much-needed facelifts and a leg up on windows or HVAC and more. What we’re doing coming out of COVID is supporting the Niles small businesses the best that we can and I do appreciate those who go out there and find these grant monies. It’s nice when we get those funds, so thank you.”