Silverthorne awards over $24,000 to four local businesses | SummitDaily.com

Silverthorne awards over $24,000 to four local businesses

Silverthorne is willing to put money down on a new optometry office, a local moving company's efforts to expand, outdoor improvements at a veterinary clinic and renovations to a relatively new restaurant.

Announced late last week, town council has awarded four local businesses, including Blue River Vision, Peak to Peak Movers, Silverthorne Veterinary Hospital and The Argentos Empanadas & More, grants worth $24,500 combined through the town's 2018 Business Grants program at the recommendation of the town's Economic Development Advisory Committee.

Altogether, Silverthorne Town Council allotted $40,000 for the latest round of business grants — the same amount it has in previous years — and the remaining balance will either be rolled over into next year's grants or put into a second round this year.

According to town staff, there's no push to spend all of the money, as the advisory committee and town council aims "to pick the best projects" and there's no timeframe in which the money has to be spent.

The grants awarded this year vary from $1,000 up to $10,000, the maximum amount possible. Overall, 11 different Silverthorne businesses put in requests totaling more than $120,000 combined, according to town manager Ryan Hyland.

Applications not approved were submitted by High Country Artisans, the Summit County Elk's Lodge, the Stinker gas station, The Pad and The Colorado Angler, among others.

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According to Marc Hogan, who serves on the economic development committee, all of the grants backed by the town fell on one of two tracks, either related to site enhancement or economic development.

"Those are the two main drivers," Hyland said of the program, adding that the town gets a lot of requests for "great projects" from "great organizations," but they don't always "quite fit into one of those two boxes."

The site-enhancement grants are designed for businesses hoping to take on projects such as facade improvements, art installations, architectural enhancements, new signage, lighting and landscaping, or parking improvements.

Founded in 2017, the Silverthorne Veterinary Hospital pulled one of the site-enhancement grants this year for $1,000 — one-fourth of its request — to help pay for some new outdoor benches.

Another example of a site-enhancement grant went to The Argentos Empanadas & More, an Argentinian food restaurant that opened last December and will see $3,500 in town funding for what the owner Leo Tartufoli described as an effort to create a more open, welcoming environment at the restaurant.

In addition to other renovations, Argentos Empanadas is planning to build a large garage-style sliding glass door that allows customers to enjoy beautiful days outdoors from inside the new eatery.

The monetary award from the town isn't a huge amount compared to the overall cost of running a business, the owner conceded, but making ends meet can be a struggle at times and everything helps.

"It does really help," he said, "and any help is welcome."

The town also awards grants to businesses that undertake capital investments — excluding working capital — that bring additional jobs, a unique amenity or new regional draw to Silverthorne.

The grants also can support projects that bolster of vitality of the downtown core, other commercial districts or help diversity to Silverthorne's economic base, according to the town. Any business within commercially zoned areas of town is eligible to apply for an economic-development grant, but preference goes to those that "most clearly demonstrate (their) capital investments" will be linked to the creation of new of jobs.

For its $10,000 grant, Peak to Peak Movers is looking to expand the business that sprung up in 2017 by hiring four more full-time employees at wages ranging from $18-$25 an hour along with the purchase of a new truck.

Since the business grants program began in 2012, Hyland said Silverthorne has put a "miniscule" amount into it compared to "the overall dollars that have been invested in (the) community" by the businesses that received this money.

Blue River Vision, for example, will be "the only one in the country offering lens grinding and edging, sports vision and vision therapy" when it opens, states a summary of the 2018 business grant applications.

For that, the town has determined the project offers value from both the site-enhancement and economic-development standpoints, and awarded the business $10,000 for what's listed as a $350,000 project in the project summary.