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EDC expands its facade grant program

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The grant program run by the Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. helped Jacob Roebuck, in center in black, create a space-age look for the Spaceport Roswell location on East Second Street. (Submitted Photo)

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The Roswell-Chaves County Economic Development Corp. has expanded a business improvement grant program to include all of Chaves County.

Mike Espiritu, president of the EDC, said that the Facade Improvement Matching Grant Program has provided $15,000 in funds so far.

Recipients include Spaceport Roswell, El Toro Bravo Restaurant and a third business in the process of having its funding award finalized.

The program has been operating for several years, Espiritu said, but previously only locations in or near the downtown Roswell business corridor were eligible.

“Now we include all of Chaves County businesses and businesses in Roswell outside of downtown that want to participate,” he said.

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Espiritu said that the intent of the program is to help not only local businesses, but to benefit the community as well.

“It will attract more business to those storefronts,” he said. “It also will improve tourism traffic. A nicer, updated, modern exterior appearance will make people more apt to enter.”

He added that increased sales for businesses translate into more gross receipts taxes for cities and Chaves County to pay for services for residents, and they could bring business and job growth to the area.

As a matching fund program, the facade improvement project will reimburse businesses after they have completed the improvements, and the business owners must pay at least the same amount as the grant award for the work. If renting their locations, business owners also need permission of the building owners.

Espiritu said the application asks the businesses to obtain quotes from local contractors, if that is possible given the timing and nature of the work.

“We want to try to infuse money back to our local construction companies as well,” Espiritu said.

He also said that the EDC is not sure yet how big the need might be in the county, but that board members have indicated their willingness to reallocate funds within their budgets for the coming year to make grant awards if possible.

Jacob Roebuck, the head of Roebuck Entertainment, which runs Spaceport Roswell, said the grant was used to renovate an older building at 121 E. Second St. during summer 2020 to give the start-up business a space-age look. Spaceport Roswell offers virtual reality experiences, with one featured now involving the Roswell 1947 UFO crash incident.

“It was an old cinder-block building, so we came up with the concept of putting the metal on the building and to give it a modern look. We wanted to stand out,” he said. “Those facades are really expensive and we are really appreciative of the grant program that the EDC does to help pay for that.”

He said that the EDC program has fewer regulations than some governmental programs and uses an application of only a few pages.

The owners of El Toro Bravo Restaurant on South Main Street were not immediately available for comment.

MainStreet Roswell also has at times obtained grants from New Mexico Main Street for facade improvements, but that program has been for businesses in the city’s downtown MainStreet district.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.