With the help of Ada’s business improvement program, two downtown businesses are taking steps to upgrade their stores.

The Diamond Shop is repairing the mortar on the top 4 feet of its building, and The Social Shop is replacing its glass storefront. In addition, The Social Shop is putting in a secondary door on the west side that will allow the building owner to gain access to the second floor, which is currently inaccessible.

Those projects are partially funded by grants from the city’s business improvement program, which is designed to help small-business owners make improvements to their properties. The Ada Jobs Foundation oversees the program, which is financed by part of the proceeds from the city’s Proposition 2 sales tax for economic development.

Eric Dyer and his wife, Stacy, own the building at 118 W. Main St., where The Social Shop is located. Dyer said he plans to gut the second floor of the building and put in new plumbing and wiring, making the space suitable for rental.

Dyer said his project will cost about $100,000, and the grant from the business improvement program will cover up to $5,000 of that expense. He added that the program offered an incentive for him to move forward with the project.

“It drove the project home when I could get refunded for some of my investment,” Dyer said.

Sandra Roberts, who owns the building where The Diamond Shop is located at 100 E. Main St., said the grant money will help offset the cost of the $25,000 mortar repair project. She said she also appreciated Ada Main Street, the Ada Jobs Foundation and the city for helping find a local contractor with experience working on historic buildings.

“Between those three, they made this happen,” Roberts said.

The business improvement program also approved a $5,000 grant for brick and capstone repair at 102 E. Main St., where the Nine Months shop is housed.

Grants

The business improvement program is a collaboration among the Ada Jobs Foundation, Ada Main Street and the city, Kaiser said.

“Ada Main Street has always has the vision to get this done,” she said. “Ada Jobs Foundation joins us in that vision with their role as business attraction, business retention. And the city of Ada wanted to be able to direct money to the downtown in order to help with that revitalization.”

The business improvement program is open to businesses located in the downtown district, which must supply matching funds for their project. A committee made up of representatives from Ada Main Street, the city of Ada and the Ada Jobs Foundation reviews grant applications and decides which ones should receive grants.

Those applications are then submitted to the boards of Ada Main Street and the Ada Jobs Foundation for their approval.

The committee, which had $50,000 in grant funds available this year, approved six projects totaling $28,800 for the first round of funding, Kaiser said. Six more projects totaling $21,200 were approved during the second round.

Once those business owners complete their upgrades, the business improvement program will reimburse them up to $5,000 for costs associated with the project.

Kaiser said participating business owners are excited about the program, which offers them an incentive to make improvements to their property.

“The investments these business owners are making will go a long way to making our downtown more vibrant,” she said.

Eric Swanson is the City Hall and general assignment reporter for The Ada News. He spent 15 years working at the Dodge City Daily Globe in Dodge City, Kansas, before joining The Ada News’ staff in 2012.