An enticing incentive which will encourage local business owners to enhance their shop frontage, with financial assistance provided by Westmeath County Council, was formally launched before a large and attentive gathering in Athlone Civic Centre on Monday afternoon.
In an ever evolving landscape within Athlone, the Shop Front Enhancement Grant Scheme will complement the completed streetscape works along the town’s main thoroughfare which has received positive comment since the project’s conclusion.
A scheme fund of €250,000 has been made available by the local authority and will part fund Athlone business owners, and those throughout the county, to revamp and restore the front of their premises.
Grants will cover fifty percent of the cost of the works up to a maximum of €2,500, with a range of improvement works to be covered, including painting, replacement of windows, signage and repair and re-instatement of shop fronts.
Speaking at the launch Cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council, Cllr. John Dolan welcomed the scheme saying that it is a fantastic opportunity for the business community, urging those present to promote the scheme as much as possible.
“As a local authority, we have committed significant funding towards this scheme. We want to see a clean, vibrant and colourful array of shopfronts in the town. The positive transformation of businesses can only benefit the town from a social and economic viewpoint and I would encourage every business to make an application for funding,” Cllr. Dolan commented.
Local businessman and Leas Cathaoirleach of Westmeath County Council, Cllr. Aengus O’Rourke, in his address, made initial reference to the IBAL litter rankings, which placed Athlone in an exalted second position.
“This is a good news story and coming so soon after the IBAL news can only have a further positive effect within Athlone. My advice to local business owners is to make application for this grant while funds are available and upgrade your shop fronts now that this opportunity presents itself. If you improve the appearance of your shop front then it will most definitely encourage those within the vicinity to do similarly.
“A challenge is effectively being laid down to business owners, offering them an incentive, tailor made for them, which will enable the enhancement of their premises but at only half the cost.
“I want Athlone to be of the highest cleanliness standards, one which can attract investors and tourists in large numbers and a town of which the local business personnel can be proud,” Cllr. O’Rourke emphasised.
The scheme will be available to occupiers and owners of commercial premises in Athlone and towns and villages throughout Westmeath. Applications are being accepted with relevant paperwork available from both Westmeath County Council and the Local Enterprise Office websites.
Applications will be assessed on a ‘first come, first served basis’ and works should not be commenced prior to approval. Grants will be paid out on completion of approved works and subject to proof of payment.