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East Side business owners eligible for up to $50K from Albany

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Jefferson Avenue is one of the areas to benefit from the state funds.

The goal is to bring Jefferson Avenue back to being a great East Side Buffalo shopping destination as it was long ago.

Jefferson is one of four East Side shopping districts that are not what they were. Albany is throwing in $2 million to renovate commercial and mixed-use buildings to help improve the overall feel of each area: Broadway-Fillmore, MLK Park, Kensington-Bailey and Jefferson.

Tuesday evening was the briefing session at the Beverly Gray Business Exchange for those interested in Jefferson. The potential grants run from East Ferry Street to Dodge Street. Sydney Brown, economic development director for Citizens' Alliance, said the program has a lot of goals.

"Property owners need to have 15% of their project cost and we will reimburse their project up to $50,000, which is nice," Brown said. "So that also helps the small contractors, because we are trying to keep things local to help circulate the dollars within the community, which is very important for communities to be strong and sustainable, and this program is designed to help with that. So we'll be helping on multiple levels."

Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

There was a good turnout of people looking for general information and others looking for specific information about their business situation. Leroy Love was there, looking for help for the building housing his barber shop.

"It's a good place. Very good," Love said. "You just gotta be from around there. If you do, you'll love it. I love it."

His neighbors know his shop as Mr. Love's Barber Shop and say having a distinctive name is important in his line of work.

Columbus Brooks said he might qualify for the $50,000 because he is doing both inside and outside repairs on a building where he runs a dishes for restaurants and moonlights cutting down trees.

"It would help tremendously because I live there also," Brooksa said. "We did the storefront first, but our living quarters are terrible. We have a bathroom in the kitchen, but we don't make much money. We could make more money, but I have to fix the building."He's doing significant repairs on the outside. The state program puts building owners together with contractors and monitors and inspects what's done.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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