Street Talk

Facade Improvement Grant Funds Available

By Mickey Howley

Part of the Federal Home Loan Grant money that the Water Valley Main Street Association received this summer is being dedicated to downtown building facade improvements.

For any business or building owner in the downtown district who wishes to improve their facade, the WVMSA will match dollar for dollar work up to $500.00. Some might say five hundred dollars is not what it used to be, but if the improvement bill is $1,000 the grant will cut the bill in half. Spend $2,000 on improvements (most are tax deductible) and the grant will still save you 25%. The WVMSA is calling this simply our Downtown Facade Grant program.

Why is Main Street doing this? The WVMSA believes the Main Street area is a combination of public and private spaces that together make up one space that creates “Downtown”.  Beautiful buildings without attractive public spaces are pointless, and vise versa. Both spaces must be reconstructed in conjunction and complement each other.

This effort, while directed at private property, is a small effort in the overall direction to put the sparkle back in downtown. And Main Street does not think this is money wasted or just a shot in the dark: a grant program very similar to this worked with great results last year in West Point.

They gave out five hundred dollar grants to business and building owners and had so many applicants after the initial 12 applied that they had to turn down eight more. The effect of the grant was a multiplier in the local economy in two ways: in the short term it spurred additional investment and improvements on store fronts to the tune of $12,000.  That money was spent locally on materials or labor.  In the long run, it also increased retail sales up to 10 percent in the stores that took advantage of the grant.  Buying local is “gold,” as we know, and increasing retail traffic is the big long term effect Main Street seeks with this grant.

So if you are a Main Street business or building owner and are interested in this store front grant, contact us for details (see our ad in this paper for contact info). Main Street can help with choices for paint colors and types, awning styles, sign designs, display windows, entranceways, and all the various details that go into making an attractive store front.

Last Thursday the WVMSA held its Open House and General Meeting where the hard work of our volunteers was acknowledged and highlighted and three members were elected to the Main Street board. The new board members are Rubye Carr, P.J. Blount and Joe Black.  If you see them tell them thanks for investing their time and effort back into our community.

In last week’s survey, we asked for the main reasons volunteers give time and money to an organization. All of the responders said (first time the survey response has been 100%) is because they believe in the organization’s cause. See www.watervalleymainstreet.com for this week’s survey on what is your favorite facade.

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