Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Local News

Clinton Seeks Grant for Downtown Improvements

Clinton has applied for a Small Town Economic Assistance Program STEAP Grant that, if awarded, would facilitate façade improvements for commercial properties in the downtown area.

The maximum amount of money awarded is $128,205, which may involve some town spending as well.

“The program does not call for a specific dollar amount to be used as match. Some grants call for specific amounts. In this case, there isn’t a dollar threshold but a desire to see municipal dollars in the project,” said Town Manager Karl Kilduff.

The deadline for the town to apply was Aug. 28; no date has been given for when the grants will be awarded. The Town Council authorized Kilduff to apply on Aug. 10.

For Clinton, the grant would be used to supply businesses with money for improvements on their sites. The businesses would apply for the money and the Economic Development Commission (EDC) would review the applications and approve the funding.

“At a high level, after outreach from the town and rolling out the program, businesses would apply for grant funding. Applications would be reviewed and ultimately, the EDC would approve grant funding to a business. The business would then complete their project. The business would have to pick the type of work most appropriate to their need,” said Kilduff.

EDC chairman John Allen listed redoing wall panels or painting as common projects for which the businesses could seek funding.

The exact locations of what businesses will be eligible to apply for the grant are still to be determined, but Allen said its generally the downtown and main street area of town that is being targeted.

“The purpose of the grant is façade improvement program that the EDC and town manager want to get going. It’s something we’ve been working on for a long time,” said Allen.

Allen said that the EDC spoke with landlords of downtown properties to gauge their interest in the program last December and January and the response was “very positive.”

“The hope of the EDC was look, if we start an initiate here, if we get grant money the whole make up of Main Street looks better,” Allen said.

Allen and Kilduff both see the program as having some potential long-range economic benefits as well. Allen described the grant as having both “soft benefits and “hard benefits. The soft benefit is the improvement of the aesthetics.

“If I live in a town that looks better, it feels better,” said Allen.

The hard benefits according to Allen, are the future economic impacts from the improved looks.

“The better that section of town looks, the more valuable the property is,” said Allen.

The improvements may lead to more visitors to town, which could lead to more businesses coming, and more money in town, which could offset some of the tax burden on ordinary citizens, Allen theorized.

“The benefit for the town is the more attractive the town is, the more is the more interest from surrounding towns there is and more interest investors have to maybe invest in the town,” said Allen.

“It is an opportunity to invest in our small businesses to keep them vital and competitive. COVID has had an impact on the economy and keeping business locations competitive help preserve local employment and position us for economic recovery,” said Kilduff.

Eric O’Connell covers news for Clinton for Zip06. Email Eric at e.oconnell@shorepublishing.com.

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