Columbus Destination Business Guidelines

PURPOSE: The City of Columbus Economic Development Plan 2019-2032 allows for use of economic development funds for those eligible activities allowed under the Local Option Municipal Economic Development Act. Said Act allows for a portion of its collected economic development funds for qualifying businesses that derives their principal source of income from retail trade (Neb. Rev. Stat. § 18-2709).  The retail trade eligibility for the City’s economic development funds has been underutilized.   The Columbus Destination Business Recruitment Fund aims to increase awareness and access to said funds in hopes assisting with the revitalization the city’s historic buildings, eliminate blight conditions, and promote economic growth by providing financial assistance to eligible applicants who wish to establish or expand their business in Columbus.  

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA:  To be eligible for the Columbus Destination Business, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  1. The real property’s improvements must have been constructed before 1970.
  2. The business must be located, established, or move within Columbus city limits or as otherwise authorized under the Economic Development Plan.
  3. The business must be classified as a restaurant, entertainment venue, or retail store.
  4. The applicant must provide a detailed business plan, including financial projections and a timeline for opening or expansion. 
  5. The applicant must demonstrate financial need and the ability to have a minimum equity investment of at least 10% of the total project costs.
  6. All projects must be consistent with the City’s Comprehensive Plan and must comply with all applicable city zoning and building codes.

AMOUNT VAILABLE TO BE LOANED FOR RETAIL TRADE FUNDS:  A total program amount of $425,000 may be lent out by the City regarding retail trade funds.

LIMITS ON ALLOCATIONS TO APPLICANT:  Funds may be lent out to applicants in the amount of up to $150,000 per applicant, with a maximum of $75,000 for restaurants, $50,000 for entertainment venues and $25,000 for retail stores per 22’ of frontage. The funds may be used for eligible expenses such as building renovations, equipment purchases, and working capital. 

Citizen's Advisory Review Committee: The Citizen's Advisory Review Committee (CARC) shall review and evaluate loan applications and make recommendations on said application as required under the Economic Development Plan. The CARC is responsible for ensuring transparency, fairness, and adherence to the program's objectives.

APPLICATION PROCESS:  The applicant for these funds must comply with, and file an appropriate application, in compliance with the City of Columbus Economic Development Plan.