Twenty-six Iowa communities have won $100,000 grants from the Iowa Economic Development Authority to improve buildings. Jim Thompson oversees what’s called the Catalyst program.
“Catalyst grants are primarily for buildings that are underutilized that need a new life,” Thompson explains. “Usually underutilized means vacant, or certainly could occupy different space.”
This is the third year for these grants. “Forty-percent of every funding cycle is reserved for communities less than 1,500in population. And the Legislature put that in place when this program was initiated. And it really preserves the activity for small towns — they’re competing across the board and it’s been a great program,” Thompson says.
The grant in most cases is less than half of the entire project — but it is money to get things started. “I never thought that I’d say that in my career that $100,000 isn’t a lot of money — until you do a total building rehab. And it’s not uncommon to have that be several hundred thousand dollars,” according to Thompson. “So this is a way to really encourage these property owners to work with the city to make these projects happen.”
The program requires the cities to apply, which Thompson says gets them involved. He says the renovation of one building in a small town can really be a catalyst to help other businesses. “You’re really putting them on the tax rolls. We really want to see these buildings improve in value, and obviously help with all the other adjacent properties in that community,” he says.
Thompson says they had 73 applications for this year’s funding and they are scored on project impact, appropriateness, funding, and incorporation of sustainability/smart growth principles.
Thompson says there are just a few restrictions on the use of the money. He says they have a two-year timeline from July 1st to complete the project. Thompson says it is possible to grant an extension if something pops up. Thompson says around 90% of the projects in smaller towns include some sort of residential component.
Here are the cities and their project amounts:
City Population Project Match Amount Project Cost
Atlantic 6,689 SHIFT Building Rehabilitation $221,000 $321,000
Belmond 2,376 Ramsay School Building $1,608,203 $1,708,203
Cantril 222 104 Division St. $128,993 $228,993
Carson 812 105 Broadway Street $145,250 $245,250
Clarksville 1,441 Mather Building $110,000 $210,000
Creston 7,834 Hot Air Brewing Company $321,134 $421,134
Delhi 460 314 & 312 Franklin Street $563,150 $663,150
Dyersville 4,058 Tegeler Dairy $759,000 $859,000
Eldon 927 Restoration of 417 &419 West Elm $55,000 $155,000
Estherville 6,360 Historic city hall/fire station renovation $191,454 $291,454
Forest City 4,091 Rehab Hardware Store for Radio Station $331,523 $431,523
Guthrie Center 1,569 Williams Building $200,000 $300,000
Independence 5,966 Leytze Building $651,350 $751,350
Mapleton 1,224 322 Main Street Rehab $55,000 $155,000
Maquoketa 5,920 Mitchell Maskrey Mill Rehabilitation $1,322,900 $1,422,900
Mediapolis 1,536 Renovation of 711 Main $150,107 $250,107
Mingo 302 103 West Main Street Project $57,700 $157,700
Perry 7,702 Morgan Building $798,575 $898,575
Prairie City 1,680 Prairie City West Side Square Rehab $260,000 $360,000
Preston 1,012 Preston Times Building $177,022 $277,022
Rockwell City 1,709 Rehab Historic Candy Kitchen and Hotel $255,084 $355,084
Sabula 576 Ackerman Building Rehabilitation $409,276 $509,276
Sigourney 2,059 114 E. Washington St. Rehabilitation $165,400 $265,400
Stanton 689 317 Broad Building Rehabilitation $145,500 $245,500
Tipton 3,217 Hardacre Theater Apartment Rehab $233,000 $333,000
Waterloo 67,798 W 3rd Street Corner Market $140,350 $240,350