It’s hard to say no to free money.
A grant program is helping owners of commercial buildings in Blue Earth pay for exterior improvements and upgrades.
And, even businesses that are part of multi-million dollar corporations are eligible for funding.
Recently, the city’s Economic Development Authority approved four grants through the Commercial Building Exterior Improvement Grant (CBEIG).
Getting money for their projects were Blue Earth Custom Embroidery, $2,925; Blue Earth American Legion, $1,548; Rainbow Food Co-op, $793; and the Faribault County Register, $563.
The Register is owned by Ogden Newspapers Inc., headquartered in Wheeling, W. Va.
Ogden Newspapers operates 40 daily newspapers in 14 states and also publishes multiple weeklies and magazines.
Robert Nutting, president and CEO of Ogden Newspapers, also owns the Pittsburgh Pirates and Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania.
The net worth of the Nutting family has been reported at $1.1 billion, with Ogden Newspapers accounting for $630 million of the fortune.
So, why would the Register need to seek a grant to repair rotted wooden hand rails located at the rear entrance of its building?
Attempts to contact Ogden chief financial officer Duane Wittman for a comment were unsuccessful.
Tim Clawson, executive director of Faribault County Development Corporation, says his recommendation to approve funding for the four projects was not based on economic need.
Under the CBEIG program, primary consideration is given to projects that improve safety and are necessary to maintain the integrity of the structure.
Secondary consideration is given to repairs that improve the building’s exterior appearance.
The grant amount covers 50 percent of the project’s cost up to a maximum of $10,000 per building in a 12-month period.
Based on the program’s eligibility criteria, businesses such as McDonald’s or
Walmart could receive a grant.
“Any business within the Blue Earth corporate limits can apply,” says Clawson. “Any application that meets program requirements could be approved. The EDA board has the final say.”