SANFORD — Small business owners looking to expand ”“ with a bit of help with financing ”“ are being asked to support a city-sponsored application for a Micro-Enterprise grant and loan program called Grow Sanford.

The city’s grant writer, Lee Burnett, is contacting Sanford businesses asking them to fill out a “statement of interest” survey in the program.

The city is looking for a $150,000 grant through the Community Development Block Grant program, which it in turn will use to help fuel business growth.

Burnett said the grant program would be attractive to a variety of small businesses ”“ machine shops, hairdressers, restaurants, hardware stores and more.

“This is for businesses already invested in the community,” said Burnett. “This is one thing we can do to try and help businesses, and we hope they’ll take advantage of it.”

One community that has it nearby is Kennebunk, which won a $150,000 grant in the 2013 CDBG Micro-Enterprise program. Economic development director Mat Eddy said it’s been good for businesses in the community. The program has helped Kennebunk businesses like Bel Cibo da Cherie with building upgrades, and is working with Wallingford Farm, New Morning Natural Foods, The Kennebunk Barber, Seed & Bean, and Shield’s Meats with various projects.

Eddy said one business needed as little as $800, earmarked for equipment, while the maximum allowable under the 2013 program was $25,000.

“It’s just the right amount of money” to assist small businesses in expanding, said Eddy.

Other communities winning grants in 2013 were Belfast and Lubec.

Burnett is asking folks to speak in favor of such a program at Feb. 18 city council public hearing, and to fill out a non-binding statement documenting their business and specific needs. He said there will be a work session in early March to help businesses fill out the statements.

There are some eligibility requirements ”“ the businesses must be for-profit and current on all taxes, compliant with zoning and permitting, employ five or fewer people, and meet income guidelines or where the expansion creates at least one job. Income guidelines range from $38,450 for a one-person family to $72,500 for a business owner with a family of eight.

Grants may be used for equipment, fixtures, furniture, inventory, machinery, product development and improvements to provide a measurable decrease in energy costs, building improvements and technology.

The proposal has the support of the Sanford Springvale Chamber of Commerce and the Sanford Regional Economic Growth Council.

In a mailing to the membership, Chamber of Commerce President Richard Stanley was enthusiastic.

“With your help, we can do this,” he said.

Business owners may contact Burnett at 608-4171 or [email protected]

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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