A second round of the Fairfield Facade Improvement & Marketing Assistance Program has been launched after the program assisted four businesses in 2019, it was announced Monday.

The program, operated by the Fairfield Economic and Community Development Committee, allocates grants ranging from $3,000 to $25,000 intended for the renovation, restoration and preservation of the exteriors of privately owned businesses in Fairfield. Funds can also be used by businesses for marketing assistance to stimulate commerce.

Belanger’s Drive-In on Main Street in Fairfield, pictured in 2014, was the recipient of a facade grant in 2019. Michael G. Seamans/Morning Sentinel file

“The sustained growth in facade improvement programs and place-based economic strategies are driving forces behind vibrant municipalities, incentivizing diversification, and creating sustainable local markets in the 21st century,” Garvan D. Donegan, director of planning and economic development at the Central Maine Growth Council, said in a prepared statement. 

In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, investing in Fairfield’s businesses is especially crucial, according to Donegan.

“Particularly important within a COVID-19 context, the continued investment in the Town of Fairfield and its downtown is having a tangible impact on quality of place which attracts investment, residents, and visitors,” Donegan said, “making FIMAP (the program) an important opportunity to realize the full potential of Fairfield’s commercial properties. These new layers of investment will assist in sustaining and propelling the town’s growth forward more quickly, with visible impact.” 

Because of the pandemic, the advisory committee will prioritize projects that strongly contribute to the revitalization of the town’s business community, to the restoration of the town’s historic resources and to job creation and retention, according to Town Manager Michelle Flewelling. 

“The continued focus of this grant program will be to develop new partnerships, retain and expand existing operations, make Fairfield’s neighborhoods more inviting so that we encourage new businesses, residents, and visitors, and create direct economic benefits for the community as a whole,” Flewelling said in a prepared statement.

Eligible projects within the facade improvement category include preservation and restoration of original and or historical facades; removal of “modern,” nonhistoric alterations or additions to original facades; repair or replacement of windows, doors, and trim; and the addition of signage or awnings. 

Within the marketing assistance track, eligible projects include branding, digital or print advertising and signage. 

According to Donegan, there is no deadline for businesses to send applications in, but it’s recommended that businesses apply as early as possible.

During its inaugural year, the program distributed grants to Belanger’s Drive-In at 84 Main St.; International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 1253 at 176 Main St.; Meridians Kitchen & Bar at 166 Main St.; and Sunset Flowerland & Greenhouse at 491 Ridge Road. 

The program is funded by Fairfield Tax Increment Financing revenue. 

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