CoSign+ is sponsored by MidWestOne Bank

CoSign, a program of the National Sign Museum, put out a call in 2016 for a national launch of their turn-key placemaking neighborhood revitalization program. The Iowa City Downtown District partnered with MidWestOne Bank and the City of Iowa City and was one of six chosen communities. Years later now, the ICDD has unveiled over 30 pedestrian-oriented projecting blade signs and roughly 15 storefront enhancements that were locally designed and customized for downtown Iowa City.  The program has since expanded to include the ICDD’s signature “+” aspects to include other incentives for signage, merchandising, doorways, and other storefront improvements. 

For 2023, the CoSign+ grant program returns with matching funds, once again, with the intent to provide meaningful design for signage and storefront enhancements. This year’s program focuses on projecting signage, awnings/canopies, take-out windows, window transparency, and lighting. Downtown District businesses that are interested in the program should read the full grant process and follow the steps for eligibility. 

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, 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 Express Interest

  1. There is no formal application to this grant, rather you apply by emailing all of the following to the ICDD staff contact: 
  • Color, digital photographs of your storefront and immediate surroundings showing the proposed improvements with high resolution renderings;
  • contractor estimates; and
  • your intent to follow through with implementation of the improvements.
  1. Materials will be reviewed for completeness and design. CoSign+ grants will be approved on a rolling basis as they come in and until program funds are depleted.  Awarded projects are announced as they are installed. You will be notified that your plans have been received and whether anything is missing within 2 days of receiving your materials. 

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.  Please review Iowa City sign permit information at 
  4. Approved projects 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 ensure eligibility of the changes to your plans. 

Step FiveReceive funds

  1. Submit completion documents, permit approval from the City, final invoices from contractors and receipts showing payment in full.
  2. CoSign+ grant payments will be paid after signs are implemented at the quarter year mark. 

Approved applications will receive a 50% match for projecting signs up to a $3,500 grant

Storefront enhancement approved applications will receive a 50% grant match up to $2,500

Businesses are eligible to 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