HANFORD — When Main Street Hanford held its “Night of Giving” during Thursday Night Market Place a few weeks ago, the organization decided to do its own giving and handed a $10,000 check to the Kings Art Center.
The check was made possible through Main Street Hanford’s façade grant program, which was created to help business owners with the cost of building improvements by providing assistance for the maintenance, rehabilitation and upgrading of existing properties within the downtown Hanford Business Improvement District.
Earlier this year, Kings Art Center Executive Director Bruce Kane submitted a façade grant application to help replace 25-year-old vinyl awnings that cover walkways and most of the center’s courtyard.
Kane said he didn’t even know Main Street Hanford provided this type of grant and was made aware of it through a local business consultant. Once he figured out the Kings Art Center fell within the Business Improvement District, he began making sure the organization met all the requirements and filled out an application.
“We were really shocked when Main Street Hanford was so generous as to give us $10,000 toward the overall cost of the major awning replacement,” Kane said.
The grant came at just the right time, too. Kane said part of the awnings flew off about six months ago and the center has been replacing the awnings little by little as money came in.
Kane said the grant was incredibly helpful because the entire cost of the project was over $20,000, which he said was an exorbitant amount for the Kings Art Center, which is a nonprofit that relies completely on donations.
Kane said the project was already in the middle of completion when the grant came in, so the money is helping to finish the project. He said he expects the entire project to be finished in about two weeks.
“It’s good to see the home stretch coming,” Kane said.
Michelle Brown, executive director of Main Street Hanford, said in past years the organization gave around six grants per year; but this year the organization has already given six grants for a total of $13,365. She said she wants to give out at least another six grants before year’s end.
“We’re hoping this will be a record year for giving the grants,” Brown said. “We hope to approve any that come our way.”
Brown said most of the grants go toward upgrading signage or repainting and are usually $500-$1,000.
She said Main Street wanted to support artists and the local art community by giving this larger grant to the Kings Art Center, which just celebrated its 25th anniversary.
“We’re really happy to be able to help them,” Brown said. “It’s important to support small businesses.”
The money for the grants comes from the success of Main Street Hanford’s events, particularly Thursday Night Market Place, Brown said. She said the more people who turn up to support the events, the more money gets put into the façade grant program.
“The events are fun, but the best part is being able to give back to the community,” Brown said.
According to the online application, applicants must meet with the city’s Planning Department to confirm that all city requirements have been met prior to submitting the application. Requirements state that all properties must conform to the city’s zoning ordinance and property assessments must be paid.
After making sure all the requirements are met, Brown said all a business owner has to do is fill out an application and provide invoices for the work being done. She said the grants will cover half the cost of the work.
With several new businesses opening up downtown, Brown said she hopes they all take advantage of the extra help and apply for the façade grants.
In an effort to improve the downtown area, Kane suggested that every downtown business owner at least look into applying for a façade grant from Main Street Hanford.
“A good-looking downtown is more attractive to businesses and patrons alike, so everyone benefits,” Kane said.
The Kings Art Center is currently closed, but people will get to see the new awnings when the center opens again on Friday with a new exhibit.