Municipalities and businesses often turn to the state, county or federal governments for grants.
In Heidelberg, business owners can find a more local source of grant money to help them improve the exterior look of their buildings.
The borough is offering matching grants up to $1,000 to any business along Route 50, known locally as East Railroad Street, for façade improvements.
Borough manager Joe Kauer said 40 packets of information have been mailed or hand delivered to the Route 50 business owners.
"The borough council and mayor decided to dedicate funds to the project to help spur economic growth in Heidelberg," he said.
The initiative is being taken in conjunction with a federal Department of Transportation grant of $2.4 million awarded to spruce up the Route 50 corridor through Heidelberg, Carothers Avenue in Scott, and Third Street in Carnegie. Money from the grant will be used to install new curbs, sidewalks and amenities like better street lighting, benches and crosswalks.
Work has already begun in Scott and is expected to start soon in Heidelberg.
A linear rain garden designed to help absorb stormwater and add greenery along Route 50 is also planned for the Heidelberg segment of the project.
Heidelberg has made available $115,000 from its Business District Improvement Fund to help pay its 50 percent match for the façade improvements.
To receive the maximum grant, a business owner has to spend $1,000 or more. Eligible projects include painting, new signs, exterior lighting, awnings, new doors and windows. The borough will match the cost of the improvements up to the $1,000 limit, borough council president Raymond Losego said.
A committee of five people has been formed to evaluate applications for the grants. Serving on the committee are Dawn Cindric, an architect; Kathy Molisky, a graphic artist; Bob Koch, Heidelberg building inspector; Mayor Kenneth LaSota; and borough manager Joe Kauer.
While there is no hard-and-fast deadline for applications, Mr. Kauer said the sooner they are received the better.
"We hope to have the majority of the work done by November," he said.
Bob Podurgiel, freelance writer: email@example.com.