Retail Incentives


Eligibility Criteria

Recommended Eligible Types of Businesses

- Must show some public benefit to the downtown such as a provider of goods currently not available, new jobs, blight elimination, catalytic retail concept, etc.

- For profit, sales tax paying businesses.

- Existing successful businesses who want to expand within the Retail Recruitment Target Area.

Recommended Ineligible Types of Businesses

- Includes, but not necessarily limited to: non-profit agencies and entities, schools, day care centers, currency exchanges including check cashing agencies and some non-bank financial retail outlets, nightclubs, bars, liquor stores, convenience stores, gun shops, pawnshops, fast food restaurants, and passive real estate ownership and management.

- The committee could decide on a case-by-case basis to exclude other business activities which they believe do not benefit the health, safety and welfare of the community and/or do not meet the objectives of this fund.

Criteria Factors

The level of funding the proposed tenant can receive should be determined based on the following proposed factors:



Type of business Only businesses that meet the criteria of a “Desirable Retail Business” as described by this plan will be eligible.

Property Owner Participation Stronger participation by the owner to invest in the retailer or provide below‐market rental rates will earn higher scores during the scoring process.

Operating Practices Retailers willing to be open extended hours such as evenings and weekends would score higher.

Uniqueness of Use Retail store concepts which are new to downtown and provide a diverse and unique offering to the Downtown Lincoln marketplace would rate higher scores.

Location within the Retail Target Area Locating in certain target areas within the Retail Recruitment Target Area will earn higher scores depending on the concept and its fit in that particular area.

Job Creation The ability of the retailer to employ more individuals, specifically Lincoln residents, will earn them higher scores.

Investment The amount of investment by the retailer will be considered as important as the participation by the property owner.

The “But For” Test Those businesses that would not likely locate downtown “but for” the incentive will earn additional consideration.

Independent Destination Retailer Retail concepts that independently serve as a draw for a tremendous amount of unique traffic will be given additional consideration.

Ability to Attract Other High Volume Retailers Retailers who bring with them the inherent ability to attract partnering, adjacently‐located businesses will receive special attention. Bonus points are awarded for retailers fulfilling co‐tenancy recruitment.

Lease Term Retailers and landlords will not be considered for an incentive if they have a lease for less than three years. Those willing to commit to longer‐term leases will receive extra incentive consideration.

Square Footage of Retail Space Retailers taking on larger square‐footage spaces will receive added consideration.

Sales per Square Foot Ratio Retailers who can realistically model a proposed high sale‐per‐square‐ foot ratio can earn extra incentive.

Expressive Retail Storefront Design Unique design concepts that enhance and enliven the street experience where the store is located will receive extra consideration.

Lincoln-Owned Business Businesses owned and operated by local Lincoln residents will earn additional consideration.

Minority/Woman Owned Business Businesses owned and operated by minorities and/or women will earn additional consideration.

Application Process

The program works by matching eligible retail entrepreneurs with incentives in an effort to assist desirable types of retail businesses in locating within the Retail Recruitment Target Area. There are two ways a prospective business may enter the Retail Incentive Program. They include:

1.  A prospective tenant who has already found a space, spoken with a landlord, and drafted a lease applies to the program in partnership with the landlord. If the concept meets the eligibility criteria, they move into the formal application process.

2.  A prospective tenant who has a business concept but has not yet identified a store location, or spoken with a landlord, can approach the Program Manager and get assistance in locating spaces that may be a fit, if they meet the eligibility criteria for the program. The Program Manager can help determine where the tenant’s business might be best located and how much space to take, among other things. Once a potential space has been identified and a lease has been drafted, the tenant and the prospective landlord apply to the program together.

Once one of these initial steps has occurred, the formal application process begins, with the tenant and landlord working together to achieve the maximum amount of incentive. The process includes:

- The prospective tenant and landlord work with the Program Manager to estimate how much incentive they might qualify for. The Program Manager completes a draft scoring sheet, estimating the maximum incentive possible given existing variables. The Program Manager will outline ways in which the landlord and tenant can work together to increase the amount of incentive they will receive, and they are given time to strive to meet higher incentive requirements. Note: They will be told that this draft scoring sheet is a guesstimate, and that the incentive is not guaranteed.

- Once a lease is finalized between the landlord and tenant, the landlord officially applies for the grant on behalf of the tenant. The application asks for detail on the business concept, business plan and
financials. A copy of the negotiated lease must also be provided, and must show some proof of property owner contribution.

- The completed application is sent to a Loan Committee. The Loan Committee can invite the landlord and tenant to make a presentation OR can deny them based on the merits of the application. If invited, both the landlord and the tenant present to the committee. The committee scores them based upon application materials and the criteria the business meets as part of the Retail Mix Plan.

- Once approved, a contract between the landlord and Downtown Civic Ventures is signed laying out the terms of the incentive payment and noting any required operational criteria.

Email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to request a retail incentives application.