Leander ponies up: New Old Town pub receives $75K grant

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A new business in Leander’s Old Town district will receive a $75,000 grant from the City of Leander to open a brewpub in coming months. The city council approved the matching equity grant earlier this month as part of the city’s Old Town Incentive program. It will help Michael and Jamie Nelson open the Ponyfoot Public House at 216 N. Gabriel Street.

“We’re grateful for it,” Michael Nelson said. “The assistance from the city was unexpected and we’re thrilled.”

This is the second grant given as incentive for business owners to locate in the Old Town district of Leander since the pilot program began in January. Sweeten Up Bake Shop received a $30,000 grant earlier this year, and overall, the city has committed $250,000 from its general fund for the program. Money can be used for infrastructure needs, such as sidewalks, water line, etc., or as matching equity for financing, according to Leander Economic Development Director Mark Willis.

“Most towns don’t do much to help small businesses,” Willis said. “It only seems right to help small businesses, not just the big guys. In this case, we’re trying to get the mom-and-pop businesses up and going.”

City economic development staff members review a business’ application materials and business plan to determine potential sales and property tax revenue that would be generated by the investment over a five-year time period from the time the business opens its doors, Willis said. In this case, the grant is used as matching funds for the bank’s financing of the operation.

“I expect this one [Ponyfoot Public House] to actually make its money back in four years,” Willis said.

The city hopes the incentive plan will help build a thriving town center.

“It’s a pilot program, so we want to look back in about three years and see how all this came to fruition,” Willis said. If it is successful, he said, they will ask for more investment from the council.

Those interested may apply for consideration by submitting a request to the Leander Economic Development Division. Send an email to mwillis@leandertx.gov for more information.

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