- Associated Press - Friday, February 20, 2015

MADISON, Neb. (AP) - Building owners and tenants in downtown Madison have until Feb. 23 to submit final renovation plans to receive part of a grant from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development.

The Norfolk Daily News (https://bit.ly/1LixxKC ) reports that the $350,000 grant will be used as a matching fund. Building owners would pay for 25 percent of a project’s cost, and the grant would cover the rest.

Officials say all renovation work must be completed by October 2016, giving recipients two construction seasons to complete the renovations.

Madison’s economic development director Byron Brogan says that the goal of the renovations is to revitalize the city’s downtown area.

“The main goal is a revitalized, energetic, attractive downtown that speaks to the fact that Madison is a progressive city and one that people would want to do business in and invest in,” said Brogan.

The city council voted to retain Byron in an interim role after some have questioned how much impact the renovations, which he has spearheaded, would have on the city.

The newspaper reports that Mayor Alvin Brandl, who is one of those who’ve questioned the potential impact, wants to replace the director with someone who is a “numbers” person to ensure that the grants benefit citizens rather than corporations.

“I am the mayor for all of the people of Madison,” Brandl said. “I want to see receipts. I want to see what’s in the bank.

Brogan says there was initial hesitation by business owners to participate in the renovation project because they had doubts about if funds would actually be available.

“I think that there was so much skepticism by the business owners that this was really going to happen, that there really would be downtown revitalization money available to beautify and rehabilitate properties, that it took a long time and a lot of convincing,” he said. “Suddenly, everybody started to believe.”

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Information from: Norfolk Daily News, https://www.norfolkdailynews.com

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