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Clear Lake council approves downtown business incubator program

CLEAR LAKE — The Clear Lake City Council this week approved establishing a business incubator program for the downtown area.

City Administrator Scott Flory says the program would promote creating economic development opportunities in the downtown area with supporting new retail and other business concepts.  “The incentive program would be available for ground-floor retail, for-profit opportunities. In a leasing situation, both the tenant and the property owner must agree to the terms and conditions of the program.”

Flory says participants would get a rent subsidy.  “The maximum subsidy that we propose for an 18-month period would be not to exceed $10,000. That would be broken down as follows over the 18 months of the subsidized rent schedule: months one-through-six would be a 50% rent subsidy, not to exceed $830 a month; months seven-through-12, a 33% subsidy, not to exceed $560 a month; and then months 13-18, a 17% subsidy not to exceed $275 a month.”

Flory says under the program’s guidelines, the business owner shall be open for normal business hours at least six days a week, be active with the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, and participate in Chamber-member events such as Thursdays on Main.  “We have inserted criteria relative to the building facades. We want those to be consistent with the nostalgic theme of downtown Clear Lake. The business must also remain in continuous operation with the downtown business district for not less than three years from the date of opening. If they don’t, then the city would reserve the right to require repayment of those rent subsidy funds.”

Franchise and chain businesses are ineligible for the program, with an emphasis given to new businesses, new concepts by existing downtown retailers, and expansion of existing retail operations from outside of downtown Clear Lake. 

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