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Applications now available for Downtown Development Authority Project Fund Grant
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Entrepreneurs wishing to bring their business to or improve already existing businesses in Dawsonville can now apply for a grant for city assistance.

The Dawsonville Downtown Development Authority unanimously passed its application process for a $25,000 grant program during its special called meeting Monday.

Applications are now available at city hall, with applicants able to submit their requests until Sept. 14. The DDA will make considerations and awards during its Sept. 21 regularly scheduled meeting.

Originally conceived as a way to pay the rent for new businesses, the program eventually evolved into projects involving city-benefitting improvements. The city first proposed the idea back in May, but has seen several drafts of the grant application before the authority was satisfied with a final draft.

"The grant program will be administered by the Downtown Development Authority. It is required by state law to only be used to fund projects," said City Attorney Dana Miles. "Projects are defined, by state law, as something that fits the DDA's guidelines. We have suggested some in the draft, but it will be up to them to come up with a definite set."

Some of the project guidelines in the current iteration include acquisition, construction, installation, modification, renovation or other improvements of property.

Currently, the program will allow for an annual budget of $25,000 to be awarded to an applicant or applicants, depending on how many apply and how much the city gives to each.

"It's an honor to be part of the grant process that will be available for the local businesses and future business owners of Dawsonville Downtown Development areas," said authority secretary/treasurer Seanie Zappendorf. "We hope to continue to assist in the revitalization of the downtown area and see more businesses succeed here."

Zappendorf said that she hopes that this grant and other "under-used" grants the city has, such as one designed for facade updates, will be used by more new businesses once word gets out that they are available.

"This will be an annual grant program. If the council decided it was going great, it could be funded at a higher level, funding can be increased," Mile said. "If it is not as successful, you can choose to fund it at a different level. This would all be set annually."

Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan said that the multiple revisions are just part of the process for such a new program.

"This is something brand new and we want to make sure that we have all of our bases covered," he said. "This is not something we are entering into lightly. We want to create something that will ... encourage businesses to come into our city, so we want to make sure we get it right."