Rockford’s TIF Program will help local business owners fund improvements

Published: Mar. 10, 2023 at 10:19 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Some Rockford business owners will soon be able to apply for help funding exterior improvement projects.

The program is part of the Tax Increment Funding, or TIF Commercial and Industrial Rehabilitation Program offered by the city.

Eligible small business owners from any of the seven TIF districts in Rockford can apply for funding to help with projects focused on exterior improvements (facade) or inside for ADA accessibility improvements.

“I think the TIF program is wonderful for neighborhoods like ours,” says small business owner Holli Connell.

The seven districts include Auburn, Broadway, East River, E. State/Alpine, E. State/Mulford, Midtown and N. Main/Auburn.

One of the businesses in the N. Main and Auburn District is Engine Studio Owner Holli Connell who says she won’t hesitate to apply once applications open.

“I’m very excited because we are starting renovation on our building, and we’re hoping we’ll take advantage of it,” says Connell. “We do have a very old infrastructure here in the city of Rockford, which is wonderful because it shows our history, but it also can be very expensive.”

If selected, Connell says she will use the money to update the ramp outside of Engine Studio to make it more ADA accessible.

“To continue to keep that historical preservation side of Rockford where visitors come or new people come to live here. I think it adds and enhances what Rockford is.”

The City of Rockford will set aside $150,000 for each district and the city will match up to $25,000 in funds per business to assist with permanent building improvements.

“You create TIFs because there is a significant need in those areas,” says Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. “The more experienced and the larger developers or business owners know to take advantage of this programs. But we want to make sure that we are helping these small businesses.”

“It’s really awesome that the city does provide this funding and that the city understands that these neighborhoods need to have some help,” says Connell.

There will be an informational session at 8 a.m. Tuesday March 14 at Empowering Word Christian Center in Rockford.

Applications open March 28 and a closing date hasn’t been set as of Friday. The application will include places to fill out things like the details of the project, cost estimates, proof of funds and lease agreements.

The city says funds can’t be used for projects like parking lot improvements, interior work, painting, or job training. The funds are provided by the city as a five-year forgivable loan.