Chamber to Apply for CDBG Downtown Revitalization Grant

April 18, 2013
Dwayne Page
Suzanne Williams

In a continuing effort to revitalize the downtown commercial district, the Smithville-DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce is applying for a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $25,000.

If approved, funds from the grant will go toward façade improvements to eligible downtown buildings, specifically on the north and west blocks of the Smithville Public Square. Store owners in those areas who wish to participate will be responsible for funding the grant's 25% local match. There would be no cost to the City of Smithville.

(Play video below to see results from work done through previous projects)

Its all part of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development's Tennessee Downtowns program, a competitive community improvement program for cities and counties seeking to revitalize traditional commercial districts.

As part of the grant application process, the Smithville aldermen Monday night adopted a resolution designating the area eligible for the program. Chamber Executive Director Suzanne Williams addressed the mayor and aldermen making the request for passage of the resolution. "We're here on behalf of the Tennessee Downtowns program. The chamber is going to be applying for a CDBG block grant for downtown. Its for $25,000. Its for improvements. Its not a sure thing like the last $15,000 grant we got. There's going to be eight communities that receive this grant. I think we have a really good chance. The state says we are their poster child because we took $15,000 and did such a large amount of improvements with that. We posted our video presentation on youtube at their (state officials) request and they have been showing it to everybody. They are very excited. They think we have a good chance and they called and told me to apply. The grant does have a 25% matching fund. One of the qualifications is that we have to designate that area. It sounds terrible but its called "slum blight". The city will have to pass a resolution declaring that determined area to be blighted and that will be part of the application. It's a real broad definition. It could mean a beautiful building that is vacant. It could mean a building that's got something in there but it needs improvements on the outside," said Williams.

Smithville was one of 12 communities selected to participate in the first phase of the program several months ago. Chamber Director Williams made application on behalf of the city of Smithville and later for the $15,000 grant made available.

In the first phase, eligible downtown store owners who chose to participate received $500 for investing a minimum of $1,000 in exterior improvements of their buildings through the grant program. All sixteen mini-grant recipients were funded including The Flower Box, Cantrell's Men Store, Cantrell's Ladies Clothing, Attorney Keith W. Blair, Attorney Frank Buck, Thomas G. Janney, Henrietta Hale, Attorney Jeremy Trapp, Granny's Goldmine, Alan Webb, Attorney Gayla C. Hendrix, Richard Williams, Attorney Vester Parsley Jr., Annette Greek, Attorney J. Hilton Conger, and Gail H. Webb.

If anyone is interested in obtaining more information about this phase of the program and the CDBG grant, contact the Chamber office at 597-4163. Letters of support for this project are also requested to help in obtaining the grant.

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