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15 grants are awarded to downtown businesses

Fifteen downtown Lockport businesses received cash grants from the city Monday, as its micro-enterprise assistance program reached full boil.

The state-funded program brought the city $200,000 to hand out to eligible businesses.

Monday's grants totaled $180,000, with two more pending, Mayor Michael W. Tucker said at a sidewalk news conference on Main Street.

The original rules for the program envisioned the city awarding $170,000 in grants and keeping $30,000 for administrative costs, but that has changed.

"We decided to have all the money go into the community. We're not taking any money for administration," Tucker said.

R. Charles Bell, the city's director of planning and development, said 22 businesses applied for money. The grants ranged from $5,000 to $20,000.

State Sen. George D. Maziarz, R-Newfane, arranged for the $200,000 allocation to the Greater Lockport Development Corporation, the city's development agency, from the state Office of Community Renewal. He said there might be more where that came from.

"I think the chances are good. The governor has seen that this is a very positive thing for small to medium-sized communities," Maziarz said.

Among the recipients were Paul and Denise Ellingson of Pendleton, whose 8-year-old company, Campfire Premiums, moved from their garage to space in Harrison Place two years ago.

The couple produces travel mugs, water bottles and similar promotional goods.

"The grant's going to give us some money to get some more equipment to expand our product line," Paul Ellingson said.

Denise Ellingson said they will hire their first employee in six months, with one or two more jobs expected to be added in nine months, and the company also will improve its website.

Tucker said, "Today's announcement is expected to lead to the creation of 35 new jobs."

The city had previously announced grants of $20,000 to D'Vine Wine Bar in Ulrich City Centre and $15,000 to Lake Effect Ice Cream, 20 Lock St.

Grants disclosed Monday included $20,000 each to Donna's Restaurant, 7 Charles St., and Sweet Ride Rentals, a bicycle rental company to open next month at 51 Canal St.

Grants of $15,000 each went to Micro Graphics, 36-B Main St., and KM Treats, 36-A Main St.

Awards of $10,000 were made to Campfire Premiums; Rissa Productions, Harrison Place; Just Lookin', 38 Main St.; and Lake FX Studio, Bewley Building.

The city gave $8,000 to Big Willie, 174 Walnut St.; $7,500 each to the Learning Edge, 3 Main St., and Socha's Instrument Repair, 247 Market St.; $7,000 to Faery Auctions, Harrison Place; and $5,000 to Diet Doc Buffalo, Bewley Building.

Selections were made by a committee that included Bell and his assistant, Kevin McDonough; Heather Peck, manager of Lockport Main Street Inc.; Lynn Oswald, director of the Niagara County Community College Small Business Development Center; and Scott Cain, an accountant and member of the Greater Lockport Development board.