Earlier this week, Gov. Haslam announced that Rogersville was among nine Tennessee municipalities that would share $750,000 in Commercial Facade Improvement Grants to assist with downtown improvements.
The only other East Tennessee city to receive funding was Mountain City, which was awarded $50,000.
Rogersville Chamber of Commerce Director Nancy Barker told the Times-News Friday that several downtown locations in need of facade improvement were identified in the grant application.
Among those were the Hale Springs Inn, Mountain Star Mall, St. Marks Presbyterian Church, the Shepherd’s Center, a vacant storefront on Main Street on the east end of downtown, and a storefront on Church Street.
“The money can be used for any kind of facade,” Barker said. “It has to be facing the street, and it can cover anything from awnings to windows, signs, paints, bricks, and any kind of repairs needed on the outside of the building.
“The purpose of the grant is to help stimulate downtown and help small business owners keep their buildings up. We’re very fortunate in that we just have a few buildings in downtown Rogersville that need attention. The Tennessee Main Street program came up with this idea to try to stimulate downtowns across the state by making improvements to some of their buildings so that hopefully businesses will move in.”
Other cities awarded facade grant funds last week included: Athens, $100,000; Bolivar, $79,250; Dyersburg, $100,000; Lebanon, $100,000; Savannah, $100,000; Smithville, $100,000; and Tiptonville, $20,000.
A 25 percent match is required from each recipient.
“The downtown area is the heartbeat of a city, and these communities are taking steps to help their downtowns thrive,” Haslam said. “I congratulate the nine communities awarded the Commercial Facade Improvement Grants this round. They are moving their downtowns in the right direction and helping us reach our goal of making Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high quality jobs.”
The grants are derived from Tennessee’s federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and are used to improve commercial buildings in downtown districts that have active revitalization programs in place through the Tennessee Main Street and Tennessee Downtowns programs.
The Rogersville funds will be disbursed to various projects based on an assessment that awards points for various needs.
“We’ll look at the buildings that have applied and see if anyone else is interested, and we’ll put a committee together and look at the scores as we determine how the funds will be distributed,” Barker added.