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Features Main Street grants awarded to Highlands and Sylva for revitalization...

..., job creation

Both Highlands and Sylva were recently notified that the towns will be the recipients of Main Street program grants aimed at revitalization projects and job creation in their downtown districts.

On April 21, Gov. Bev Perdue announced that seven communities would receive more than $969,000 through the state’s Main Street Solutions Fund. The small businesses that benefit from the Main Street Solutions grants are required to create or retain a minimum of 119 permanent and 57 part-time jobs in addition to 84 construction jobs, according to the grant applications.

For every $1 invested by the state, an additional $4.21 is to be invested by the local communities, bringing the total public/ private investments to just over $4 million. These funds are to be used to provide direct support to North Carolina small businesses with revitalization activities that include commercial building rehabilitation, façade improvements, LEED certification energy efficiency and code improvements.

Highlands grant project

The Town of Highlands was awarded $200,000 for the renovation of the courtyard area of the “Town Square” complex. The Highlands Small Town Main Street Committee, Lupoli Construction, Kilwin’s, TJ Bailey for Men, Spoiled Rotten, and 4118 Brew Pub are all listed as awardees of the grant.

“These grants will support some of the most creative and innovative economic development work being done today. Main Streets can be at the heart of North Carolina’s economic recovery with the right support and investment. The small businesses and other economic partners in our downtown areas will be stronger for this important investment.” – N.C. Governor Bev Perdue

Town Manager Jim Fatland explained that the funds for the project will be administered by the town to the developer, Lupoli Construction, who will be responsible for a $2 investment match for every $1 in grant funds. Besides upgrades to the common space in the courtyard, new public restrooms will be incorporated in the renovation.

“It was really good news,” said Fatland of the grant announcement. “We’re trying to get a lot of things going on in our downtown like other communities, and every little bit helps.”

Only Main Street Community towns were eligible to apply for the grant. Highlands was accepted into the state’s Main Street Program just last September, and this is the first grant the town has been been awarded through the program.

“We didn’t expect one this quick, but we submitted it, and Lupoli did an outstanding job on the application,” said Fatland.

Fatland noted that the grant will also trigger some other investment on behalf of the town in the downtown area, including continued sidewalk improvements and pedestrian nodes at intersections.

The Town Square courtyard houses four existing businesses that will directly benefit from these improvements. The businesses will be responsible for creating or retaining 23 permanent full-time jobs, 10 permanent part-time jobs, plus 84 construction jobs.

Sylva grant project

According to Adrienne Isenhower, the Town of Sylva has for a few years had a plan on the table for renovations of facades along Mill Street. “We saw this grant opportunity, and we decided to try for it and taylor it to that plan,” Isenhower explained.

The town was awarded $47,382 for the project which will entail upgrades to three buildings facing “Back Street,” as Mill Street is commonly called. Besides the complete renovation of the facades, the project will also include parking lot improvements to a private lot that supports several of the small businesses that front Mill Street. Contract bidding for the project will take place in the coming weeks said Isenhower.

The Downtown Sylva Association, Jean Ensley, David Schulman, Annie’s Bakery Café, Valero Convenience Store, Speedy’s Pizza, Tina Maries Barber Shop, Western Southern Life Insurance, Family Dollar, Sylva Insurance, Penumbra, and Peebles are all listed as awardees of the grant. Under the granting provisions, the nine businesses that will directly benefit from the funds are required to match funds with 2:1 investment in the project and create or retain a total of 57 permanent full-time jobs and nine permanent part-time jobs.

A press release from the Downtown Sylva Association noted that more funds may be available through the Main Street Solutions Grant. Parties with projects planned for downtown Sylva are asked to inquire about the grant extension at (828)586-1577. Applications are due by May 20.

Solutions grant responsible for $13 million in investments so far

This was the second round of funding through the Main Street Solutions program. To date, the program has handed out nearly $3 million in grants with an expected $13 million in additional public/private investments.

“Small businesses create more jobs than any other part of the economy, and we are helping to bring those jobs to our communities,” Gov. Perdue said in a press release announcing the recent round of grants. “These grants will support some of the most creative and innovative economic development work being done today. Main Streets can be at the heart of North Carolina’s economic recovery with the right support and investment. The small businesses and other economic partners in our downtown areas will be stronger for this important investment.”

The press release notes that developing main street in small towns is key to spurring economic growth in communities that have been hit hard by the global economic recession. The goal of the Governor's Main Street Solutions program is to help increase economic activity through public/private redevelopment, historic preservation and small business assistance.

The full list of recent grant awardees and amounts are:

Benson, $41,389
Kinston, $200,000
Goldsboro, $200,000
Burnsville, $200,000
Highlands, $200,000
Sylva, $47,382
Newton, $80,830





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