Commissioners recommend grants for Superior small businesses

Dec. 22—SUPERIOR — The plan commission awarded its last round of small business grants for 2022 on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

The latest round of grants will contribute $32,988 toward $111,605 projects to be undertaken by Superior businesses.

For the year, the commission funded $179,639 toward $665,377 in projects to help 12 small businesses improve their operations and to help two new businesses acquire necessities for running the businesses.

"It's a little more than 2020, but a little less than 2022," said Stephanie Becken, planning assistant. "My understanding is that it will just roll into next year's and allow for a little bit bigger pot next year."

Since 2019, the city has allocated about $200,000 annually to help small businesses get started or make improvements. Currently, the grants are awarded quarterly based on a sliding scale with a maximum grant award of $15,000.

Central Pub, 1001 Belknap St., expects to furnish and equip a new restaurant and bar in Central Flats in late January. The $71,094 project was awarded $15,000 toward kitchen appliances and furnishings for the new eatery. The total project cost for establishing the business is about $800,000, but the owner, Shelly Rantala-Nelson, only requested funding for appliances and furnishings, according to the grant application.

Louada Granite is also new, working out of 2700 Winter St., to fabricate and install granite, stone and quartz countertops. The commission granted the business $9,000 to purchase a used inline edge polisher at a cost of $20,000.

Five-Star Automotive, 2607 Tower Ave., is planning to replace a large glass door and storage cabinets, and to update the customer service area with new flooring, cabinetry and coffee services. The commission awarded $8,988 toward the almost $19,972 project.

With revenue left over in 2022, Mayor Jim Paine said the commission will have to consider how the funding will be allocated in 2023.

In 2022, the $50,000 allocated for each quarter was sufficient in each quarter except the second. In the second quarter of the year, $82,111 in grant requests had to be pared down to fit $73,586 in available funding, prompting the commission to reduce the size of some grants it could award.

The commission Wednesday also amended a small business grant awarded in June to Eddie's Ribs, 5221 E. Fourth St.

The business, under new ownership, was awarded $14,012 toward more than $56,000 in project costs to renovate the well-known restaurant in Superior's Itasca neighborhood.

They are asking for a little bit of relief because of two issues — extending the agreement and an early draw, said Jason Serck, economic development, port and planning director.

"They've had a couple of hardships in the last month or so," Serck said. "The plumbing ... had to be replaced unexpectedly in the bar, which was not part of the grant agreement."

Within the last week, they also had to repair a water line that broke in front of the building. Serck said they are seeking half of the grant award with more than half of the grant-funded project already complete.

The small business grants will be considered by the city council on Jan. 3.