2016-04-01 / Front Page

Grants aid six businesses

By Wm. Duke Harrington Staff Writer

KENNEBUNK — Selectmen have approved a semi-annual application to the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) that will aid six local businesses with grants of $25,000 each.

The town will provide the money up front and will eventually be reimbursed by DECD. The businesses being helped are: We Care Drycleaners, Old House Parts, Garden Street Market, Douglass Chancellor Meyers & Associates, Fitness Nuthouse, and Home Instead.

But the loans are not entirely without risk.

“If, in fact, a business were to fumble illegally, or do something incorrect, the state could come back on us for that, but that’s never happened here, and I think has never happened anywhere in the state before,” said Kennebunk Economic Development Director Mat Eddy. “We do monitor them to make sure they do everything they say they are going to.”

Although the board’s vote to approve the application was unanimous, not all selectmen seemed thrilled by the concept.

“I wonder what happened to the good old days when businesses didn’t need the government’s help to stay in business,” Selectman Ed Karytko said.

Each of the businesses will use the grant as follows:

 We Care Drycleaners – Owners Ed and Chong-Ye Arnold will use a façade grant to rehab the rear and side cinderblock walls of their Main Street building, while also fixing cracked windows, repainting and cleaning debris, in hopes of renting out that portion of the site to another business, which Eddy said “are desperately needed in this part of Main Street.

 Old House Parts – As an experienced renovator, Tom Joyal will use a façade grant to breath new life into the old railroad freight house on Trackside Drive. “This [building] is presently a very poor image for both Kennebunk and the Downeaster to portray to those disembarking from the train,” Eddy said.

 Garden Street Market – The $25,000 CDBG grant will be part of a $2.3 million project by three investors to turn the shuttered market into a 10-lane bowling alley, with a restaurant and stage for entertainment. “The facility will become an important four-season destination serving the local population and tourists,” Eddy said.

 Douglass Chancellor Meyers & Associates – An Internet-based collection agency moving its headquarters from St. Louis to Kennebunk, the company will use its CDBG grant to buy office equipment. The owners are currently scouting for a vacant second-story space downtown and have pledged to create three to four jobs to aid those currently struggling with low-to-moderate incomes.

 Fitness Nuthouse – Although one new job might be created with financing for this physical training facility, the owner is actually considered to be of low-to-moderate income, Eddy said. “The $25,000, plus private equity investment to upgrade existing equipment, will permit this business to remain open in its current location,” Eddy said.

 Home Instead – A firm that helps senior citizens remain in their homes will get a $25,000 matching grant that, ironically, will allow it to make façade improvements including Americans with Disabilities Act upgrades needed to allow seniors to visit its office. “This is critical in that the primary service provided by the company is to seniors and their families,” Eddy said. “They are one of several such assistance businesses in Kennebunk, in what is one of our fastest growing sectors and a major community development focus or the town.”

Staff Writer Duke Harrington can be reached at news@kennebunkpost.com.

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