MILTON — The Economic Development Office has received approval by the BOCC to manage a grant aimed at beautifying local businesses — the StRIVE Grant Program.

StRIVE stands for Santa Rosa Improvement Vitalization Enterprise. The grant is intended to provide small business owners grants for façade improvements and signage. StRIVE provides funding to upgrade the appearance of property, increase property value, and stimulate economic activity within the county.

Erica Grancagnolo, special programs manager at the EDO, is the point of contact for the grant and presented the program to commissioners at the Jan. 22, meeting. Commissioners approved a total grant budget of $50,000 for the year.

"The program would require a 1:1 match from the applicant, with a maximum $1,000 award for sign improvements and $5,000 maximum for façade improvements," the EDO said through a document presented to commissioners. Once the grant is awarded, the awardees can complete the upgrades. The grant will then reimburse the applicant 50 percent of costs once the EDO approves expenditures.

StRIVE is available to commercial property owners and/or business tenants only. Money for the grant will come from the economic development office portion of the electric franchise fees Grancagnolo said. If funds remain after the first application cycle, a second cycle will take place later in the year.

"The grant is intended for locally owned businesses — mom and pop businesses," Grancagnolo said. She also said nonprofits and businesses that are chains or affiliated with national companies are not eligible.

Grancagnolo anticipates taking applications starting this spring. She said there are still policy and procedure matters that need to be written. For example, District 5 Commissioner Lane Lynchard said there should be a stipulation requiring awardees remain at their location 24 to 36 months there by discouraging applicants from using the funds to "flip" their business.