Downtown Gets $100K For A Facelift

Article and courtesy of The Greeneville Sun.
BY BRAD HICKS/PHOTO BY MICHAEL S. RENEAU
Published January 30, 2016

 

The concept is simple.

If communities are going to successfully recruit businesses, they must be places where those looking to locate new businesses would want to live, according to Tennessee Commissioner of Economic and Community Development Randy Boyd.

Greeneville now has some financial support to help make this happen. Boyd joined officials at the General Morgan Inn on Friday to announced Greeneville as the recipient of a $100,000 Commercial Facade Improvement Grant.

The grant is derived from the state's federal Community Development Block Grant funds. The grants are to be used to improve commercial buildings in downtown districts that have active revitalization programs in place through the Tennessee Main Street and Tennessee Downtown programs.

The funding can be used for improvements including new awnings and signs, painting, building repair and other upgrades.

"Renovations like these can help communities thrive and, in turn, attract future economic development opportunities and promote continued growth -- important steps to help us reach our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs," Gov. Bill Haslam stated in a release issued Friday. "I congratulate the six communities selected this round and encourage all of our Tennessee communities to work toward enhancing their downtown districts."

Boyd presented a check to Main Street: Greeneville Executive Director Jann Mirkov.

"It's crucial for us to recruit businesses to our communities, and businesses only want to go to the communities that they want to live in," Boyd said. "Making the communities more livable is critical to our success in bringing in jobs. In addition, just for the people who live here now, it's just always great to improve your community and improve the quality of life."

In years past, Main Street programs throughout the state selected to receive the grant were awarded $25,000. But Boyd said state officials were able to acquire more funding for the program this year.

"We usually get a large amount of money, a lot of it gets allocated in different ways, but we realized this year it was more important to allocate any resources into our community development," Boyd said.

Mirkov said the timing could not have been better as Main Street: Greeneville and town officials work the revitalization of the downtown district.

"It's overwhelming; It's wonderful," she said. "It's quite a boost and, like I mentioned, the timing is really good with everything that we're doing in Greeneville itself with the Comprehensive Plan, the possible new [tax-increment financing and] the development that's taking place. It's perfect timing."

Mirkov said officials applied for the grant early this past summer.

Boyd described the grant as "extraordinarily competitive." When selecting the winners, state officials look at community support, innovative ideas and a community's ability to provide a 25 percent match for the funds.

"Every community in the entire state was offered the opportunity, and 24 put forth very competitive applications and only six were selected," Boyd said.

Other communities to receive $100,000 Commercial Facade Improvement Grants were Fayetteville, Lawrenceburg, McKenzie and Union City. Brownsville was awarded an $85,000 grant.

Main Street: Greeneville will be responsible for administering the funds. Mirkov said owners of commercial properties located within the 13 blocks making up Greeneville's Main Street district can apply to Main Street: Greeneville for a share of the funding.

"They will have to apply to us, do an application process," she said. "What we have will be evaluated, and then we will make selections from those applicants and assign the projects."

Mirkov said the number of projects have not been limited, but Main Street officials stated in the initial grant application that no project could exceed $50,000.

Mirkov also said it typically takes around six months from the time a property owner applies before the work can begin to improve the building. Because the process will occur in phases, it could be some time before improvements through the program are completed.

"It'll be, probably, about two years from start to finish from last year, because you have to go through a lot of checks and balances for this," she said.

Boyd said he is looking forward to seeing how the funding is utilized in Greeneville.

"I would image some of the commercial facades on Main Street and other downtown areas will get a much-needed facelift," he said.

Like Mirkov, Greeneville Town Administrator Todd Smith said projects accomplished through the grant program tie in with downtown revitalization efforts.

"The program is going to touch the most visible parts of our downtown," Smith said. "That's the fronts of the buildings, the windows, the doors, the fenestration, so it's going to be a very visible impact on our downtown. It's going to be a great partnership with the state."

January 30, 2016

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