From music festivals to business recruitment projects, 11 initiatives are set to benefit this summer with financial support from a new grant. Originated from the Heart of Our City Committee (HOCC), and announced in late May, the Re-Imagine Downtown Activation Grant aims to support downtown businesses, entrepreneurs and organizations in implementing initiatives and events within the downtown.
Committee chair Lorien Johansen says of the 11 projects approved for funding, two are new to the city of Lethbridge, including one that was started by a pair of 15-year old high school students who saw an opportunity with cigarette butts. Steven Yang and Morteza Faraji designed and built cigarette butt collection containers that will be placed around the city. Collected cigarettes will be shipped to Terracycle to be recycled, with $1 per pound of waste donated to the Interfaith Food Bank.
Another new initiative will be a business recruitment project that aims to fill vacant storefronts, in a pitch competition done in the same style as a popular TV show.
Total funding available for the Re-Imagine Downtown Activation Grant this year is $150,000, with applications eligible for up to $25,000. This was the first of four intake opportunities that was open until late June. According to Andrew Malcom, Urban Revitalization Manager, “We received 19 applications with funding requests totalling in excess of $300,000 – thus there were not adequate funds to meet the demand. This is a great sign of things to come for Downtown Lethbridge.” Through the evaluative process, a review panel and the HOCC chose 11 recipients based on criteria outlined in the application page. The projects were partially or fully funded for a combined $99,225. A second intake will have an October deadline, with additional details coming soon. Funding is provided through the Downtown Redevelopment Fund’s un-utilized contributions from the previous HOCC Activity Grant, which was temporarily suspended in 2020 due to changes with public health restrictions.
A list of all 11 projects with the amounts they received can be found on the City of Lethbridge website.