Commercial Modernization in Fair Lawn Gets Big Boost from Loan & Grant Program


Facelifts for Facades, Sign & Awning Replacement Among Elements on the Economic Agenda


The Community Advocates assisted the Fair Lawn EDC in developing and administering this loan and grant program.


Wednesday, February 13, 2007


Fair Lawn, NJ — An ambitious modernization and revitalization program offered to Fair Lawn businesses has already had a positive impact in this Bergen County town of 31,000 residents.

Sponsored by the Fair Lawn Economic Development Corporation (FLEDC) in cooperation with Columbia Bank and Valley National Bank, the Fair Lawn Improvement and Modernization Loan and Grant Program is helping local business owners in all business zones purchase new equipment and supplies and make physical and aesthetic improvements to their commercial properties. The program offers up to $35,000 that can be paid back over seven years.


In its second year of service to the community, the FLEDC has approved the first loan to Performance Jiu-Jitsu Academy on Broadway, which teaches the art of Gracie Jiu-Jitsu. The results of the loan, according to owner Louis Vintaloro and other FLEDC participants, have been very encouraging. The Academy has made several interior and exterior improvements to better position itself as a professional, highly qualified martial arts facility.


Vintaloro says he probably would not have been able to effect these changes—and the encouraging results that followed—without the availability of the grant program. “The support of the FLEDC and the local banks that believe in what the organization is doing is one of the most positive things to happen to the Broadway district in a long, long time,” he says. “It is benefiting not just the Fair Lawn business community, but our residents and visitors, as well.”


Columbia Bank Commercial Lending Officer David Nutt notes that the program could not have come at a better time. “As a community bank, we believe that reinvestment programs like this one helps to increase confidence in our town. With such obvious visual improvements taking place, the program both promotes goodwill and serves as a catalyst for even more business community development.”


The Fair Lawn Improvement and Modernization Loan and Grant Program consists of two elements. The first is a reduced interest loan, which offers loans at one percentage point below prime rate (fixed at the time of closing). Then, if the borrower commits to creating one job for a low-to-moderate income resident of Bergen County within two years, he or she will be entitled to an interest reduction grant that can prepay the interest in full at the time of the closing. In essence, the loan becomes interest free and the borrower has only to pay the principle.


The Borough of Fair Lawn is a partner in the project, with additional grant funding provided by the Bergen County Division of Community Development. Representatives from Columbia Bank and Valley National Bank have already met with several additional potential applicants to continue the assessment and approval processes.


The FLEDC is a non-profit advocacy organization that seeks to strengthen the economic vitality of Fair Lawn's commercial districts and business zones.


Other Key Programs

The Fair Lawn Improvement and Modernization Loan and Grant Program is just one of four grant opportunities offered to businesses in Fair Lawn's commercial districts. The others are the FLEDC Business Zone Sign & Awning Replacement Grant Program, the Broadway Improvement Corporation (BIC) Sign and Awning Replacement Grant Program, and the River Road Improvement Corporation (RRIC) Sign & Awning Replacement Grant Program. All organizations have renewed their source of funding for the budget year 2008.

Gracie Jiu-Jitsu also participated in the BIC program, available to businesses in the Broadway Special Improvement District (SID). The Academy's attractive new sign was designed by a local business called Sign 2000.


“As a property manager and landlord on Broadway for more than 30 years, I've seen many businesses come and go—many of which don't survive because of undercapitalization,” says Bob Beshlian, chairman of the BIC and owner of Beshlian Properties. “These no-interest and low-interest loans provide a perfect opportunity to help our commercial neighbors meet the challenges of establishing a new business.”


“The FLEDC board of trustees believes that the Sign and Awning Grant Program is a great tool to provide investment incentive to property owners in Fair Lawn,” adds Stuart Hermann, chairman of FLEDC and a local CFP ® and CPA. “With our sign and awning program partnering with the improvement and modernization program, I don't think there are many other municipalities around as proactive in commercial district revitalization as we are here in Fair Lawn.”


Other Fair Lawn businesses from both the BIC and RRIC districts that have taken advantage of the various improvement programs include Bethany Christian Services, Chicken Galore, Connectionz Salon, DDM Entertainment, Dry Cleaners on Wheels, Furniture Outlet Warehouse, John's Barber Shop, Natural Way Café, Realty Executives and others.


A copy of the Fair Lawn Improvement and Modernization Loan and Grant Program brochure, in addition to other related information, can be found on the websites of the Fair Lawn Economic Development Corporation at www.fledc.com ; the River Road Special Improvement District at www.fairlawnriverroad.com ; and the Broadway Special Improvement District at www.broadwaysid.com .


For further information contact FLEDC administrator Don Smartt at 201-797-3442.