CoSign is sponsored by MidWestOne Bank and The Iowa City Downtown District

ABOUT CoSign+ 2021

In 2017, CoSign, a program of the National Sign Museum put out a call for a national launch of their turn-key placemaking neighborhood revitalization program. Downtown Iowa City partnered with MidWestOne Bank and the City of Iowa City and was one of six chosen communities. Upon the completion of the program, Downtown unveiled 12 new pedestrian-oriented projecting blade signs that were locally designed and fabricated custom for the downtown businesses. In 2019, the program expanded to include incentives for signage, merchandising, doorways and other storefront enhancements. 

For 2021, the program returns with matching funds, once again, with the intent to provide meaningful design for signage and storefront enhancements. For this year’s program applications with a focus on projecting signage, awnings/canopies, take-out windows, transparency, and lighting will be eligible. Downtown District businesses that are interested in the program should read the full application process and follow the steps to applying. 


Step OneIs your project eligible? 

  1. You must be a downtown business or organization.
  2. Review the Iowa City Downtown District Storefront and Signage Design Guidelines
  3. Email [email protected] or [email protected], to find out if your project is eligible and if funding is still available.

Step TwoConnect with ICDD staff 

  1. Meet with ICDD staff for a short 30 minute meeting: come with project ideas , needs or review your concept. An ICDD staff member will be identified as your main point of contact to help assist with design questions, recommendations, permit assistance etc. 
  2. Discuss ways to improve your storefront/signage and review program requirements.

Step Three Apply

  1. Once you are ready to apply you will need: 
  • a) Color, digital photographs of your storefront and immediate surroundings showing the proposed improvements with high resolution renderings; b) contractor estimates; c) written permission from property owner if different from applicant; and d) completed application (application will be sent directly from your ICDD staff contact.)
  1. Applications will be reviewed for completeness and design. Application review will begin on a rolling basis and awarded projects announced as they are approved. You will be notified that the application has been received and whether anything is missing within 2 days of receiving your application. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Step Four Begin work 

  1. Receive property owner approval letter then sign and return W-9 forms to ICDD within 1 week of receiving approval for the project.
  2. Hire your contractor for the approved work.
  3. Obtain necessary building and signage permits from the City of Iowa City. ICDD staff is happy to help assist.  [email protected] is the City contact. 
  4. Approved applicants have up to six (6) months to complete proposed improvements
  5. If you wish to change your project from what was approved or wish to use a new contractor, you will need to connect with your ICDD staff contact to make changes to your approval letter. 

Step FiveReceive funds

  1. Submit completion documents: Copies of final invoices from contractors showing payment in full; Copies of any required permits.
  2. Allow 2 weeks for your matching grant check to arrive. 

CoSign+ Timeline and Budget:

  • January 2021, Applications Open
  • Funding available = $35,000 through June 30, 2021
  • There will be a 50% match of up to $3,000 for projecting signs
  • There will be a 50% match of up to $2,000 for storefront enhancements
  • A business can apply for both signage and storefront enhancements
  • Grants will be awarded on a rolling basis until funds are gone

*Awarded businesses have up to 6 months to complete the project