Vista to launch new business grant program

Vista to launch new business grant program
On Feb. 26, the Vista City Council approved the CVBID Grant Program, which will allow the district to offer numerous grants totaling between $48,000 and $50,000. Courtesy photo

VISTA — The Central Vista Business Improvement District is making changes to the way it grants.

On Feb. 26, the Vista City Council approved the CVBID Grant Program, which will allow the district to offer numerous grants totaling between $48,000 and $50,000, according to Kevin Ham, director of economic development for the city.

He said the council must approve the bid assessment process during its March 12 meeting before the new program can be established.

Ham said the new program will open up more businesses, small and large, to grant opportunities to promote business in the city core. Vista will offer up to $50,000 per fiscal year in grants, which will be selected by the CVBID advisory board.

Typical amounts will run between $1,000 to $10,000; although micro-grants of less than $1,000 will be available as well.

“We’re still going to implement those goals, which is essentially to market and promote downtown,” Ham said. “We’re taking a different tact in this coming year.”

The goals, he said, are the general promotion of business, promoting public events, decorating public places, furnishing music for public places and events, other operating activities and the acquisition, construction, installation or maintenance of improvements.

One reason for the move, he added, is to reduce administrative costs as the previous method contracted with an outside agency. In addition, he said the entity typically didn’t have enough money to implement all the goals.

“A lot of the funds coming from the city are used for administration,” Ham explained.  “If city staff does that, there is no economic development staff cost.”

The grant funds are generated through BID fees assessed to each business in the three zones, which cover Civic Center to Vista Village drives and Civic Center to Valencia drives plus along some of State Route 78. The city will begin taking applications on March 18 and the winners will be announced in June.

The funds will be dispersed in two parts, the first 50 percent in July and the second part when the proposed activity is completed and a reporting form is submitted to the city.

“I want to make sure we have, a year from now, a robust, public conversation with the payers of the bid fee about how we used the money, how we will use it going forward and whether or not we want to either A) eliminate the money; B) increase or double the size; or C) keep the status quo,” Deputy Mayor John Franklin said.

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