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Albemarle offers business grants for outdoor expansion

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Albemarle County businesses that have temporarily expanded outdoors or plan to expand to serve customers are invited to apply for the county’s Safe Spaces & Places grant program.

Grants are available for between $5,000 and $35,000 to offset costs of outdoor expansion at restaurants and other businesses. Costs incurred between March 1 and Dec. 30 are eligible.

The grants are funded by federal coronavirus relief funds supplied under the CARES Act. They may be used to pay for tents, space heaters, outdoor furniture, outdoor lighting, sanitizing stations, portable bathrooms, signs, extended Wi-Fi, point of sale systems and other elements that promote safe, outdoor business activity.

Proposed physical changes will be evaluated for compliance with county regulations and may require additional permits, officials said.

Temporary outdoor expansions will be permitted for the duration of the emergency ordinance passed by the county Board of Supervisors.

The application process will be coordinated by the county Economic Development Office. Businesses will receive an application package and will be required to provide a conceptual plan and cost estimates or receipts. Costs will be reviewed for reasonableness.

Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. Only non-residentially zoned parcels are eligible. Reviews will begin on Oct. 2 and funds will be distributed soon after approval. Projects must be completed before Dec. 30.

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