APPOMATTOX — The Economic Development Authority of Appomattox is pushing forward with efforts to boost its Downtown Revitalization Project, and prospects are looking better than they have in the past.
EDA members unanimously approved in a meeting Thursday applying again for a Community Development Block Grant, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.
When EDA member Claudia Puckette asked about the costs for applying, Town Manager Gary Shanaberger said the cost would be about $19,000. He estimated the grant's value to be in the hundreds of thousands.
Now that the grant application has the EDA's blessing, it will move on to the Appomattox Town Council, which will decide at its next meeting Aug. 13 whether to spend the money appropriated for the grant application in this year's budget. If the town wins the grant, it would use the money to revamp the exteriors of businesses in its downtown district to attract more customers, especially those from out of town.
Shanaberger expressed confidence in the grant application being approved by the Town Council.
"They are very supportive of what the EDA is doing," he said.
Two of the EDA members, Puckette and Mary Lou Spiggle, also are on the Town Council.
If the Council moves forward with the application and Appomattox wins the grant, the town plans to direct the funds toward improving the façades of businesses on Court, Main and Church Streets, Shanaberger said.
According to an EDA fact sheet on the grant, the town would be able to distribute up to $20,000 per business. The money can be put towards exterior repairs, cleaning and additions such as awnings, lighting and signage.
EDA Chairman Jeffrey Garrett mentioned the grant money could go towards roofing and interior renovations as well.
Business property owners would be required to match the grant funds and pay the funds back on a five-year loan. Property owners would pay 20 percent of the loan back per year with no interest, according to meeting documents. Shanaberger said the EDA will split the match with property owners, contributing up to $5,000.
The town applied last year, but DHCD denied the application, partly because of steep competition for the grant, Shanaberger said.
When DHCD denied the town's application, the Department stressed community involvement in applying for the grant.
Puckette and Spiggle remarked getting information on the grant out to business owners previously was more difficult.
EDA members seemed optimistic this time around.
"As we've spoke with people from Wayne Simpson all the way down to Patsy at the frozen food locker, it's an overwhelming number of people who are excited," Garrett said.
Shanaberger said DHCD informed him the ideal level of business involvement within an area applying for the grant is 70 percent, and Appomattox is estimated to be right at that threshold.
"I hope the second time is gonna be the charm," Puckette said. "I think we've got a good shot at it this time."
Applications for the grant will be due in March of next year, and the DHCD will announce grant winners the following summer.
"As we've spoke with people from Wayne Simpson all the way down to Patsy at the frozen food locker, it's an overwhelming number of people who are excited."
—Jeffrey Garrett, EDA chairman