Keller City Council approved modifications to the city’s facade improvement grant program, with the intention of broadening access to the program and encouraging more applicants.

The amended policy passed 6-0 during a meeting of city council June 1.

Among other changes, the vote removed a two-bid requirement for contractors who would perform the improvements, in addition to removing a requirement for matching funds by the business seeking the grant as well as a requirement that one bid come from a contractor located within Keller.

Now, matching funds and bids from contractors within Keller will be regarded as considerations for awarding the grants, as opposed to being requirements.

The changes were presented by Mary Culver, Keller’s economic development director, whose team surveyed and collaborated with the Keller Economic Development Board.

“Ultimately, when the board went over the policy updates, they said ‘we would rather remove some of these—what we would refer to as red tape—and let’s open it up for businesses to apply and take advantage of the program,’” Culver said.

The changes also increased the potential award to as much as $10,000, up from $5,000, and added landscaping improvements as being eligible for the grant — with the requirement of an ongoing maintenance agreement.

Another important update, according to Culver, was amending the language to make it clear that applicants for the grant could be tenants of a property and did not have to own it.

She also noted that many of the business owners surveyed as part of the feedback process were previously unaware that the program existed. Culver shared some suggestions for increasing the marketing of the program with the council and told them she anticipates heightened interest in applications with the changes now in place.

“We have many [businesses] that are very interested in applying for the grant — especially with the updates that have been discussed by the economic development board,” Culver said.