WK Kellogg Foundation In Battle Creek. (Credit: Google Maps)

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation has awarded Battle Creek Unlimited (BCU) $2 million to establish and administer the Downtown Battle Creek Real Estate Improvement Fund.  Over the next two years, the funds will be used to help increase vibrancy and job growth, eliminate blight and deterioration, and contribute to historic preservation in downtown Battle Creek.  The Downtown Battle Creek Real Estate Improvement Fund is a collaborative effort among many stakeholders, including BCU, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the City of Battle Creek, and the Battle Creek Community Foundation.

“Businesses want to join the transformative momentum in downtown Battle Creek, but we consistently hear that many have issues finding the right space,” said Joe Sobieralski, president and CEO of BCU.  “Many of the vacant facilities downtown need to be brought up to code and dramatically improved so that business owners can move in.  This real estate improvement fund helps bridge that gap in a meaningful way.”

Following an effective $500,000 pilot campaign—also funded by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation—the new program builds upon recent success, namely Record Box, a multipurpose development by Restore 269, and New Holland Brewing, which were both previously awarded funding to make various upgrades at their future downtown Battle Creek locations.

“Partnerships are key to Battle Creek’s transformation,” said La June Montgomery Tabron, president and CEO of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.  “The Downtown Battle Creek Real Estate Improvement Fund adds to the momentum of recent partnerships with Grand Valley State University, the Battle Creek Small Business Loan Fund and other groundbreaking collaborative efforts.  Business, educational institutions, local nonprofits and government all have a role to play in creating a culture of vitality in our hometown.”

The fund is designed to address major hurdles faced by those wanting to invest in downtown Battle Creek.  Grant dollars are focused on fixed assets of the real estate with the goal of revitalizing vacant space, improving code compliance, structural and mechanical issues, and other upgrades.

Grants will be capped at 40 percent of a project’s total cost up to $250,000.  Property owners, existing businesses and entrepreneurs are welcome to apply.  Application forms and further details can be found here.  

“This program will create jobs while drastically improving the vacancy rate of downtown Battle Creek,” Sobieralski said.  “The fund will attract more businesses to downtown – and, with an emphasis on improvements to fixed assets, will ensure these investments stay in Battle Creek.  We are thrilled that the W.K. Kellogg Foundation is partnering with the community to advance economic development in Battle Creek.”