The New Milford village center could soon be getting a facelift.

The town's Economic Development Corporation has launched its first project -- providing up to $5,000 each in grants and low-cost loans for facade and exterior building improvements for village center businesses.

The aim is to kickstart the economic vitality of the downtown.

By offering this opportunity, the 16-member corporation, founded in 2010, hopes to provide an incentive and resource to small businesses that wish to expand but have limited cash reserves.

Through a state economic development grant, the corporation has some $50,000 it can distribute through this program.

"We're excited about it," said corporation Chairman Nick Gazetos, the executive vice president at Savings Bank of Danbury.

In its infancy, the corporation's vision is what Mr. Gazetos calls "a three-legged stool."

The first leg is to provide some grants and loans to small businesses, either existing or new enterprises, Mr. Gazetos said.

The next would be relying on the financial, corporate and government experience that exists within the corporation to be advocates for existing and start-up entrepreneurs, he said.

The third leg then would be the promotion of New Milford as a place to do business.

The facade improvement program is the corporation's first outreach.

The money, of which up to $2,500 could be a grant, would allow business owners or landlords who wish to install new doors, windows, repaint or repair, install cornices or buy awning that would "beautify the village."

Jayson Roberts, the manager of the Village Center for the Arts, on the east side of the Village Green, said he has not heard about the program but would welcome money for beautification.

Town councilman Pete Bass, a former downtown merchant who is a member of the corporation and the town's Economic Development Commission, said that when small business owners need not worry how to afford physical amenities, they can invest those dollars in other aspects of their business.

"This is just the first step in a series of town efforts to create more economic vitality in town," Mr. Bass said.

For more information or to apply, call 860-355-6081 or email nmedcorp@gmail.com.

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