News Column

City facade grant program returns

August 9, 2014

By Pat Kimbrough, The High Point Enterprise, N.C.

Aug. 09--HIGH POINT -- Small business owners like Holt Williford credit a city facade grant program with helping them draw more customers to their doors.

A couple of years ago, the funds helped offset his costs for new signage and exterior paint work at Triad Martial Arts on N. Main Street.

"People are really big on first impressions," Williford said. "If your building looks updated and nice, they can expect the service to be likewise, and we feel that it is. We've just had tons and tons of compliments on how nice the building looks."

City officials say they're hopeful more business owners in core city neighborhoods will put the grants to use in the same way Williford did.

Owners of properties that are used for retail purposes in High Point's 11-square-mile core city area can apply for grants of up to $5,000 for projects that entail improvements such as removing aluminum or false facades, repairing or replacing windows, painting, signage or brick masonry work.

The grants are paid on a reimbursement basis for up to 50 percent of the total cost of a project after it's finished.

For example, Williford said he invested about $7,800 in the upgrades to the facade of his business. He received a grant for half that amount -- $3,900 -- after the work was done.

This is the third year for the program.

The City Council allocated $25,000 for each of the first two years the grants were awarded, but increased it to $35,000 for the budget year that took effect July 1.

Council members said they considered the first two years of the program a success and wanted to encourage further investment in the core city by appropriating more money for grants.

The first year saw eight grant awards, totalling $22,700.

The recipients invested a total of $362,742 of their own funds to match the grant money.

Last year, the city granted eight more awards, but only seven recipients completed their projects, according to Core City Administrator Wendy Fuscoe.

A total of $23,569.54 in grants were awarded for projects on which recipients spent $168,968.55 of their own money.

Fuscoe said she expects 10 to 12 awards to be granted this year.

"This program encourages people to reinvest in their properties where they otherwise might decide to not make any improvements," she said. "The physical improvements to a property make it more inviting, which increases the likelihood that you might want to stop in and shop or visit."

For more information about the facade grant program, go to|888-3531


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Source: High Point Enterprise (NC)

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