— by Kaine Riggan
The Henderson-Vance Downtown Development Commission awarded three grants to local entrepreneurs recently. Grantees were selected through a competitive grant process to assist businesses in the downtown business district with making improvements to the overall curb-appeal of their storefronts.
Charles Bowman, a veteran local business owner, renovated the building at 117 Horner Street into an antique car showroom called Southern Classic Cars. Bowman was awarded $1710 for half the total cost of installing new awnings along the front fascade.
“We’ve invested a great deal into making the building something everyone can be proud of,” admits Bowman who has been a classic car collector for decades. “I’m proud of the city leaders and the DDC for making these incentives available to folks who are willing to invest in downtown.”
The DDC’s website (DowntownDevelopment.org) lists the guidelines and eligibility requirements for all of the incentives they offer. The fascade incentive grant can cover 50% of improvement costs up to $2500. The sign incentive grant can cover 25% of costs associated with new storefront signage.
Chef Cherie Pittman of Next Door Bistro and Chef Llew Sutton of Uncle Llew’s Restaurant & Pub received the full 25% allowable reimbursement for their new storefront signage.
“Grants are reviewed monthly by committee and applications are accepted until the annual grant budget allocation is exhausted”, shared Downtown Development Director, Kaine Riggan.
Riggan also worked with downtown’s Kerr Lake Signs & Banners to design and install billboard-type signage across the fascade of the former Abigail’s Books at 405 S. Garnett Street. The property had become an eyesore since the previous owner abandoned the property allowing it to revert by due process into city and county ownership.
“Reaction has been very positive to the recent improvements,” said HVDDC Chair Phil Hart. “An attractive and thriving downtown is the life-blood of any successful city and what we are seeing is both recognition of that from city officials and support of that from a community willing to shop local first.”
In addition to awarding grants, the DDC also offers low-interest loans to bolster investment in its business district. Now in its second round of loan projects, the DDC can offer funds originally awarded through the USDA’s Revolving Loan program at a 3-6% interest rate. More information about any of these programs may be obtained at www.DowntownDevelopment.org or by calling (252) 820-9785.