Bristol Borough businesses prepare to apply for grants to improve storefronts

Bristol Borough businesses are getting another head start on potential grant money for the town’s burgeoning commercial district.

Last Wednesday night, the Raising the Bar Committee held a meeting for local business owners at the Centre for the Arts on Mill Street. The committee plans to organize businesses and help them apply for grants from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to improve their storefronts and building facades on and around Mill Street.

In late 2013, Raising the Bar spearheaded a similar effort that brought $50,000 to 13 businesses in the town’s commercial district, with matching funds from those businesses exceeding that amount. The group hopes to replicate that effort.

“We waited for three years for the program to get funded again,” said Bill Pezza, President

of the Raising the Bar Committee, in a phone interview after the meeting. “I’m very hopeful we will get funded again.”

The grants are competitive and will be available to businesses statewide.

Although the DCED has not released guidelines yet for applicants, Raising the Bar is already working to make their town’s grant proposals as attractive as possible. Pezza encouraged merchants in attendance to sign a non-binding letter of interest to show local support for the program, and introduced a four-person team that will assist business owners when it’s time fill out applications.

The group, comprising Robin Butrey, Rich Schneyder, Mycle Gorman and Stephanie Croquez, offers expertise in graphic design, carpentry and historic preservation — areas the committee expects to once again be important.

“We want to get each one looking like something that will meet the guidelines from Harrisburg,” Pezza explained.

The meeting, according to Pezza, got the efforts off to a promising start: 24 businesses owners signed letters of intent, with more signatures coming in over the rest of the week. That’s out of the 200 or so eligible businesses, a number which also includes those who took part in the program last time.

Business owners who would like to sign a letter of interest should email for information.