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Penn Yan facade fund stirs interest

PENN YAN—The Penn Yan Local Development Corporation (LDC) met Tuesday, Dec. 1, to review facade grant applications in Penn Yan, after four years of no businesses using the funds.
Shawna Wilber, Penn Yan village clerk, explained Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital and the Rainbow Junction made it available to the village after they applied for facade grants. Yates Chamber President Michael Linehan said the initial application was to the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in the early 1980s. He said when the project was done, HUD allowed the LDC to keep the unused funds to start a facade program.
Wilber said the most recent businesses to make use of the funds were the Odd Fellows Building, Keuka Restaurant, Belknap Hill Books and the former Village Seafood restaurant. However, it has been a while since a business took advantage of the grant. Wilber said the last project was the Odd Fellows Building, completed in 2005.
Linehan said the LDC has recently been reminding businesses that the funds are still available. He said that by Monday, close to six facade applications had been picked up by businesses.
Linehan explained the funds are 50 percent grant, 50 percent loan. Wilber said the businesses have to meet different qualifications to get and maintain the grant, including employment requirements. Linehan explained there is currently about $130,000 in the facade fund. He said the LDC can also apply for grants, which it has done, and gets money back from the loans for facade work.
The applications are reviewed by the LDC. Wilber said the committee is made up of Penn Yan Mayor Douglas Marchionda Jr., Deputy Mayor William Allison, Linehan, and Finger Lakes Economic Development Center Director Stephen Griffin.

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