Grant programs approved

Published 5:15 pm Friday, March 18, 2022

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AHOSKIE – The Ahoskie Town Council approved two grant programs at their monthly meeting last week aimed at helping small businesses on Main Street.

By a unanimous vote, the Façade Grant Program and the Building Reuse Program were put in place.

Money to fuel those programs comes from Ahoskie’s share of the American Rescue Plan, federal dollars received in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Façade Grant Program assists property and business owners located within the identified areas on Main Street from the intersection of Academy Street all the way through Catherine Creek Road to undertake storefront or building front improvements. These improvements can range from minor repairs and painting to substantial façade renovations on buildings used for commercial or office uses.

The goal of the grant three-fold:

  1. Encourage well-designed improvements;
  2. Restore significant architectural elements of the structure, and
  3. Coordinate the important features of a commercial or office storefront into a more visually attractive package.

These goals in turn are designed to increase the attractiveness of the downtown, increase patronage for the downtown businesses, and provide the incentive for further private investment on Main Street.

The program is funded through the Town of Ahoskie and will be reviewed by the Ahoskie Historical Commission as well as the Town Council. If multiple applications are received and funding is limited, the participants will be selected by the Town Council based on meeting the objectives of the program.

Commercial property owners on Main Street have from now until May 16 to submit a funding application, which will include the estimated cost of the improvements. The grant is a “dollar-for-dollar” match up to $7,500. The town’s grant will be will be provided in the form of a reimbursement (after work is completed).

Town Manager Kerry McDuffie told Council members at last week’s meeting that after the applications are received, they will be reviewed by the Ahoskie Historical Commission.

“They (Historical Commission) said they will get back with us within two weeks of their review at which time the Town Council can make their decisions on which projects they would want to fund,” McDuffie said.

If the timetable is accurate, the Council will be able to make those funding decisions at their regularly scheduled meeting on June 14. Those receiving the funds will be notified the next day and they have six months to complete the work (by Dec. 15).

“We will write the checks at that time,” McDuffie stated.

McDuffie said if funds remain after all eligible applicants have finished their projects, there could be another round of funding on a “first-come, first-serve basis.”

As for the Ahoskie Building Reuse Program, McDuffie said it is modeled after one used by the NC Department of Commerce that helps create businesses and jobs.

“It’s on a smaller scale of the one the state uses,” he noted, adding that those making an application for this program required to list all expenses related to their project, to include acquisition, construction, infrastructure improvements, equipment, and employee training.

“The objective is to help businesses get started,” said Amy Braswell, Executive Director of the Ahoskie Chamber of Commerce

“This will help downtown revitalization,” Ahoskie Mayor Weyling White stressed just prior to the Council members approving both measures.

For more information about either grant, contact the Ahoskie Town Hall at 252-332-5146.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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