Zionsville RDC awards grants to four local businesses

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The Zionsville Redevelopment Commission has awarded grants to eight Zionsville businesses that were negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, four of which were granted at the RDC’s Oct. 26 meeting.

The commission, after receiving recommendations from the town’s community development corporation, awarded $10,000 grants to Blooms by Dragonfly and Casalini Portraits. It also awarded a $7,500 grant to Village Antique Shop and a $6,000 grant to Frances+Parke, among others. The total amount of grants awarded is $73,500.

Previously, local retailer Lesley Jane received a $10,000 grant from the Community Development Corp. grant program to update and enhance the business’s website.

To help local businesses impacted by COVID-19, earlier this summer Zionsville launched its CDC grant program. The funding option is available to businesses in the 106th Street Tax Increment Finance District.

“With the launch of this grant program this past summer, we have been taking action to support the economic sustainability of Zionsville’s local businesses,” Zionsville Mayor Emily Styron stated. “We are committed to helping lift up this vital sector of our local economy.”

Blooms by Dragonfly co-owner Wendi Louks said her flower shop was not dramatically impacted by pandemic-related restrictions. But she said the businesses’ online orders decreased because of the limitations imposed on weddings and similar celebrations. She said her business receives half the number of orders it usually would per wedding because newlyweds have tended to hold smaller events during the pandemic. However, the business’ deliveries have risen, increasing the wear on its delivery vehicle.

“This year has been difficult for everyone, and I found our primary need is to change the scope of our business,” Louks said.

Tracy Dull, owner of Frances+Parke, a men’s and women’s clothing store, recognized a need for a formal marketing plan and an improved website while her store was closed for more than a month during the pandemic. She said she planned to use the grant to formulate a marketing plan using a combination of in-house staff and local marketing agency Mundil Marketing. The store’s advertising budget was the first expense cut after the pandemic began, so Dull also plans to use some of the grant money to advertise in local newspapers and magazines.

Mike Gogis, a representative of Village Antique Shop, said his store was in need of a website and a new metal sign and lighting to attract customers for the 51 vendors who operate out of the space.

Tom Casalini, a fine portrait artist and author who has lived in Zionsville for 47 years, said his business, Casalini Portraits, had been “struck hard” by the pandemic. The business averaged 84 commissioned portraits a year prior to the pandemic. This year, it has received six. He said the grant will help replace nonfunctioning printers and offset costs for the launch of his second book, “The Queerness Doesn’t Matter: A Journey With My Friends of Dorothy.”

In addition, grants were awarded to the following Zionsville businesses:

  • CV Art and Frame – $10,000 grant. Owner Barbara Jennings will use the grant for marketing, to direct people to the website and to pay the salary of an employee assisting with social media efforts to drive people to the business’ website.
  • Hopwood Cellars – $10,000 grant. Owner Ron Hopwood will use the grant for marketing purposes and to update the business’ website.
  • zWorks – $10,000 grant. Executive Director Vickie Hall will use the grant to cover lost revenue due to a decrease in membership and in-kind donations and to cover vacant startup office space.

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