rsz downtown storefronts 012Created in 1986 by the City of Dowagiac to address what was then a struggling downtown, the DDA and City of Dowagiac have since transformed our central business district into a showplace of the region. Streetscape improvement projects, coupled with the private investment of property owners, today provides the perfect setting for our growing niche of unique shops, and fine and casual dining.

Due to the close working relationship the DDA enjoys with downtown property owners, it is able to provide services similar to those of a realtor, but free of charge. When a building is available for lease or sale, property owners turn to the DDA to help them market, show and ultimately lease their storefronts.

The DDA program director also assists individuals as they prepare to open their business, easing communications with fellow city offcials, such as the Building Inspector, who issues permits for occupancy, signage and construction.

FACADE INCENTIVE

Property owners and even tenants can take advantage of the Facade Incentive & Architectural Design Services Program. Matching funds are provided up to $4,000 per storefront for either the historic or tasteful renovation of the front facade. To date, 95 percent of the storefronts on Front Street have been renovated using this program.

For further information, call the DDA at 782-2195 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

RENTAL REHAB

Downtown property owners, who would like to enhance their investment, while developing a second revenue source, also have the opportunity to apply for funding through the City of Dowagiac to develop upper-floor apartments.

The City plans to apply for Community Development Block Grant funds, from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, though the Michigan Economic Development  Corporation, to support the deveolopment and rehabilitation of quality and affordable rental housing within the downtown.

The continued conversion of unusable, upper-floor space into residential housing is beneficial to the property owner and to the community, as it enhances the vibrancy of the central business district.  The Rental Rehab Program provides property owners with a forgivable loan of up to $100,000 to develop each apartment.  Property owners have to contribute only 25 percent of the total project cost for each rental unit.  The program can also be used on existing apartments, when significantly upgrading finishes and appliances. 

At the time of the initial lease, 51 percent of the renovated apartments in a building must be rented to low-to-moderate income households.  If two apartments are developed within a building, the second apartment can be leased at market rate.  Rent can also be increased to market rate after the first tenant has chosen to relocate.

Rent for low-to-moderate income households is dependent upon total gross income for all houshold residents.  Based upon HUD averages for Cass County for 2019-2020, one person can make up to $35,150; two people can make up to $40,150; three people can make up to $45,150.

Property owners interested in learning more about the Rental Rehab program should call the Dowagiac DDA at 782-2195 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Latest News from your Chamber

  • April 1st, 2022

    Chamber hires new staff member

    The Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce announces the hiring of Matt Money as Chamber Marketing and Event Coordinator. 

    Money brings management, operational and event planning experience gleaned from over twelve years of employment at the University of Notre Dame to this Chamber of Commerce role.   Also, as a founding member of the Young Professionals Against Poverty in South Bend, Indiana, Money helped create, and then served as event director, for that community’s On the River Festival for eight years.  The event raised over $900,000 for South Bend’s Center for the Homeless.

    Read more ...  
  • February 27th, 2022

    Working Capital Loans Available in Cass County for Ag Businesses

    As a result of the frost and freeze that occurred last spring, Economic Injury Disaster Loans are now available to businesses, agricultural cooperatives, businesses engaged in aquaculture and most private nonprofit organizations.

    The announcement was made by the U.S. Small Business Administration. The declaration includes Cass County.
    Read more ...  
  • February 27th, 2022

    Facade Incentive Has Been Doubled

    Downtown property owners, who are contemplating renovation of the front facade of their buildings, will receive an added boost this construction season from the Downtown Development Authority.

    “With the cost of materials increasing, the DDA and City felt it was only appropriate to also increase the amount of our incentive,” said Vickie Phillipson, DDA program director.

    Read more ...  
  • February 27th, 2022

    New Grant Opportunity for Small Businesses

    Michigan’s small businesses are innovative and resilient, but they need added support. To answer this call, the State of Michigan is offering an exciting new grant program to provide businesses with additional financial support to help retain or create jobs and boost Michigan's economy. Grant applications go live on March 1, 2022, and totals $409- million.
     
    Under this program, eligible businesses in operation before October 1, 2019, may receive a percentage of their loss in total state sales through a grant, up to $5-million.
    Read more ...