Beaumont approves incentives for downtown business developments

  • Dec 18, 2022
  • News
  • David James Heiss

Beaumont has been working to address obstacles that may have caused some potential businesses to think twice about locating downtown, such as parking, streamlining a conceivably expensive application process, and sizes of available buildings.

The city has been developing incentives to alleviate some of those barriers for entry into the downtown district.

Motivational programs include a façade improvement program in which half of an eligible business’s cost to upgrade or improve exterior facilities would be matched by the city, up to $50,000 per project.

Beaumont will implement a Business Attraction Incentive Program to provide financial assistance and support economic development, retention and expansion efforts, specifically in the downtown corridor, such as “premium casual restaurants, sit-down fine dining, bars and cocktail lounges, breweries, distilleries — all requiring on-site sale, and various entertainment uses,” Economic Development Manager Kyle Warsinski told Beaumont’s city council during his Dec. 6 presentation. “The reason why we picked these uses, is that they’re the most catalytic in terms of their ability to bolster the downtown and bring in people to the downtown, have them hang out, have them spend money, and to help other uses that are already there.”

Such eligible businesses could receive up to $25,000 in loans forgivable after two years, while fine-dining establishments could receive up to $50,000, forgivable after three years of successful operation.

The city has developed a pre-application process that includes an administrative fee waiver of $907.92 for businesses with addresses in the downtown mixed use zones; the city is also willing to waive the $216.91 building pre-inspection fees within the downtown district.

The city budgeted $500,000 in its General Fund for the program in June 2022.

As part of the city’s efforts to encourage expansion and development of existing businesses in the downtown corridor, sewer connection fees, which are usually cumbersome for restaurants, bars and breweries, the city has offered a two-year sewer fee deferral program.

To further assist new and existing restaurant-type businesses, the city is offering to match up to 50 percent of the cost of installation of grease traps and interceptors, which are required by the city, not to exceed $15,000 per business.

Warsinski told Mayor Pro Tem David Fenn that there are a couple of businesses that have been in contact with his office to express interest in the program, though he did not disclose them publicly.

“I’m not certain that any of the existing restaurants even know we’re thinking of doing the grease trap program. My guess is they would be very happy hearing about that. I know the inspection fee waivers will be highly sought after.”

City Manager Elizabeth Gibbs confided that her office had also consulted with a couple of businesses that have shown interest in the incentive program.

Councilwoman Jessica Voigt said, “I think this is an excellent program. A lot of thought has gone into this.”

Beaumont’s city council unanimously followed its Economic Development Committee’s Nov. 9 approval to approve the Downtown Business Incentive Program.

“I’m excited,” Mayor Julio Martinez said. “You know one of our goals, council, is to promote economic development, so this is a great program,” and expressed appreciation of the city providing matching funds to ensure buy-in from businesses, and accountability for the city’s tax money.

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