After years of construction on Interstate 35 and Highway 62, as well as a crippling recession, nearby businesses are wary of next year's planned Lyndale Avenue South construction.
"The [past] construction almost put the liquor store across the street out of business last year. We all suffered," said Dana Habeck, office manager for Nokomis Chiropractic Center. "We've lost a lot of business over the years because people can't get here."
But a recent grant to the Nicollet-East Harriet Business Association (NEHBA) will at least help blunt the impact of the planned Lyndale construction, which will disrupt traffic between Minnehaha Parkway and 56th Street and replace the bridge over Minnehaha Creek.
The business association is receiving $15,250 for construction mitigation, business technical assistance and marketing. It comes as a grant from Minneapolis' Great Streets Neighborhood Business Districts Program. It's one of 15 projects approved by the Minneapolis City Council in late April, which together total $499,873.
The funds will be used to create maps with alternative routes, fliers and media briefings. It also includes plans for social media and logo design. The marketing effort will start in the months before construction begins and continue after the construction ends, in order to remind customers who changed their routes during construction that these businesses still exist.
A major part of the businesses association's plan will be to create a road construction survival guide, similar to a guide provided to businesses in Madison, WI during construction.
"The city does not have anything like this today. We are very excited to be able to create something like this for business on Lyndale Avenue South and throughout the city," NEHBA President Matt Perry said of the survival guide. "What we produce will be able to be used in other projects such as the Nicollet Avenue reconstruction project, also slated for 2012."
NEHBA will be working closely with groups from four of the nearby neighborhoods to best utilize the funds, Perry said.
Throughout the last year, the organization has also worked to provide information about the construction project and assessments to the same businesses. Now, they've brought on a person to function specifically as a liaison to businesses during the construction.
"Businesses are focused on doing their business and focused on serving their customers and they're not watching for grant opportunities," Perry said of the impacted businesses. "We were keeping our eyes open for grants."