WATERFORD — One of Stanislaus County's smaller cities took an idea by its second-largest and raised the bet 35-fold.
Waterford has initiated a program to offer businesses grants of $2,500 to $35,000. It's a similar idea to one started in Turlock in 2011. Turlock's Business Partnership Incentives Program offers $1,000 to new and expanding business owners who open up shop in a vacant space.
Turlock's money comes without strings to qualifying businesses. Officials say in its first year, the project funded 10 businesses, which hired more than 30 employees. In its second, staff had to request more money from the City Council for the program because the first $10,000 was depleted.
Waterford is offering more money, but there are a few more hoops to jump through.
"Most any appropriate expenditure with the funds is allowable," City Manager Tim Ogden said. That includes salary, marketing efforts and building improvements. He expects most of the projects will come in at less than $10,000.
Interested business owners must submit a pre-application. If they're opening a new business, they must pay a refundable $100 fee upfront; the city waives the fee for existing business owners. Those considered for the program will have to provide more financial information, a business plan and details on how they will create jobs.
After a meeting with representatives of the city's Small Business Development Center, Ogden will take the application to the city's Community Development and Housing Loan Committee, which will have final say on the money.
So far, Ogden said, he's received two applications for consideration from existing businesses.
Waterford is using federal Community Development Block Grants, Ogden said, "so we're helping getting funds back from the federal government and into the hands of those who can best create jobs."
Bee Breaking News Editor Patty Guerra can be reached at email@example.com or (209) 578-2343. Follow her on Twitter, @pattyguerra.