Huntington encourages revitalizing downtown through it Main Street program
By Jennifer Peryam for The Herald-Press I Indiana Economic Digest
The City of Huntington’s Main Street initiative works to offer local businesses grant funding for facade and roof improvements, with the grant funding cycle running from April 1 to Oct. 1. The Main Street program provides monies specifically for the downtown business area and also the Erie business corridor.
The program in Huntington was started in 2008 to help revitalize the downtown and make it more inviting for businesses, according to Liz Sanders, Main Street coordinator.
She said there was over $50,000 awarded in Main Street grants for Huntington businesses in 2016.
People must apply for the program by going to the city website to the Main Street tab and filling out an application and must be the business’s property owner. They are required to get estimates completed for the work and submit the application to the Main Street committee. If it is approved for the grant funding the work is to be completed and paid for, then Main Street will reimburse them.
“We provide matching funds up to $5,000 on roofs and up to $7,500 for facades after the work is completed,” Sanders said.
Already for this year a matching grant for up to $5,000 has been approved to replace the roof for a building in the Erie Corridor on Briant St. where the old Erie Railroad Station was.
Sanders said she expects to receive more grant applications in 2017 once the weather starts warming up and people are ready to make repairs to their businesses.
“When you improve the look or physical integrity of buildings it makes them more inviting for businesses to move into,” Sanders said. “If businesses are brought in it improves the tax base and the whole thing is to make sure we don’t end up with a derelict community.”
Brooks Fetters, Huntington mayor, discussed the importance of the initiative.
“This program is an awareness that we have lots of architecturally significant buildings in our downtown and nearly 70 percent of the buildings on Jefferson Street in the downtown area have participated in the main street program,” Fetters said.
He also said the program has helped retain and attract businesses with clean and updated store fronts.
“When you see the businesses who have taken advantage of the program and the synergy that goes on between restaurants, service providers and specialty shops, downtown has a real charm about it and when visitors come to Huntington they are really impressed with the stereotypical small town America feel,” Fetters said.