Lincoln businesses benefit from utility grant

Dozens of Lincoln businesses will benefit from a utility grant, and there's still money waiting to be applied for.
Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 10:38 PM CST
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - It was fitting that it was open mic night at the Crescent Moon because when co-owner Melinda Martinson heard the place would benefit from the Small Business Utility Grant, she felt a little like singing.

“That’s amazing,” Martinson said. “It’s a gift. And I know we would not be here right now if it hadn’t been for the grant moneys that the city and the money that’s available to us.”

The Crescent Moon’s landlord, Haymarket Square Developers, applied for the grant on the coffee shop’s behalf as it did with all other eligible tenants it rents to. Businesses like Z3 Technology, which manufactures video products like encoders, will hardly have to worry about electric payments in 2023.

“We were really excited about the utility grant because it allows us to take some of this money and put it back into hiring personnel,” Nate Caldwell, the administrative manager for Z3 Technology, said. “We hire a lot of interns from UNL to do a lot of our testing.”

The City of Lincoln set up the grant using federal “American Rescue Plan Act,” or ARPA, dollars.

Businesses filled out applications based off of their water and electricity costs between August of last year and September of this year. A total of about $800,000 has already gone out or will go out to dozens of businesses. The majority of Haymarket Square Developers’ tenants will benefit from the grant

“We were able to find a way to reach the maximum amount of small businesses possible,” Jonathan Camp, vice president of Haymarket Square Developers, said.

Dozens of others will also see some help covering the bills - a welcome surprise at the end of the year and the chance to breathe and stretch after two years of holding on.

“We have been slowly working our way back from the pandemic and really wanting to expand some of our hours and expand some of the music we offer,” Martinson said.

There’s still about $700,000 in grant funding on the table and all eligible businesses can apply.

To qualify, businesses must meet the following requirements: having been open before February 29, 2020, be for-profit, have 50 or fewer employees, not received last year’s Small Business Stabilization Grant mortgage grant, and be located in certain census areas, which include parts of north Lincoln, downtown and the Union College Business District.

You can apply for the Small Business Utility Grant here.