On October 7, 2022, Virginia Main Street revitalization grants for 16 Virginia communities totaling more than $257,000 were awarded.
The funded projects will revitalize historic commercial districts, expand small businesses and bolster local economies through new technology and improved marketing.
“For over 30 years, the Virginia Main Street program has been critical to economic development, small business growth and job development through the revitalization and preservation of our historic downtown districts,” said Governor Glenn Youngkin.
“I look forward to seeing the economic opportunity that these projects will spark while preserving and utilizing the historic character of their communities as well,” he added.
Since 1985, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development has been providing assistance to localities engaged in downtown commercial district revitalization through the Virginia Main Street Program.
Virginia uses the National Main Street Center’s comprehensive, incremental Main Street Approach to downtown revitalization, which is built around a community’s unique heritage, culture, and historic building attributes.
VMS allocates funding for three types of grants: Downtown Investment Grants (DIG), Community Vitality Grants (CVG) and Financial Feasibility Grants (FFG):
- Downtown Investment Grants (DIG) are available only to Advancing Virginia Main Street communities and must be administered through the designated local VMS organization. Grants can be used to fund complete projects, provide seed funding for new projects or provide gap financing that allows a project to become fully funded.
- Community Vitality Grants (CVG) are designed to assist organizations and communities in achieving their downtown revitalization goals. Grants are available to all active Exploring Main Street and Mobilizing Main Street communities and organizations, non-designated VMS program tiers. This funding supports projects that will create a positive impact on the downtown neighborhood’s long-term goals.
- Financial Feasibility Grants (FFG) allow communities to work with owners of significant derelict buildings or structures with non-productive upper-floor space. This grant also allows for small-scale development by providing feasibility resources to new or beginning developers for buildings within the district.
“Virginia Main Street continues to create opportunities for long-term economic growth throughout the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Caren Merrick.
“These grants allow us to provide targeted support while preserving the unique cultures and histories that make Virginia’s downtown areas consumer destinations,” she continued.
HERE ARE THE 2022 WINNERS:
2023 DOWNTOWN INVESTMENT GRANTS:
- Mid Atlantic Railroad Park | $25,000
Downtown Ashland Association
This project will fund the construction of the Mid Atlantic Railroad Park, which will be a museum in the format of an outdoor walking tour through Downtown Ashland. The railroad park will feature nine train-themed exhibits and sites that will be open to the public year-round.
- Façade Improvement Grant | $25,000
Downtown Blackstone Inc.
This project will fund a Façade Improvement Grant program that will serve the Blackstone Historic Business District (HBD). Anticipated outcomes include at least three facades improved, vitality in Blackstone’s HBD through cooperative actions and partnerships, as well as increased tourism in the district.
- RDA 2023 GET Boosted Program | $25,000
Downtown Danville Association
This project will fund the RDA GET Boosted (Growth, Expansion and Training) program, which offers space and opportunities for businesses to collaborate and expand. The program will assist business owners in increasing both customer and sales volume, and anticipates an improved business ecosystem for the community.
- Pop-Up Winter Market | $25,000
Historic Manassas Inc.
This project will fund an indoor winter market as a means of increasing new opportunities for vendors and burgeoning entrepreneurs. The market will run from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31, showcasing the diversity of businesses in the community and increasing foot traffic by 50% and consumer spending by 35%.
- Feel that VIBE! | $25,000
Onancock Main Street
This project will fund the creation of banners with classic themes and engaging messages that can fill empty windows during renovations and transitional periods. Anticipated outcomes include increased vibrancy through public art, increased foot traffic, and increased local awareness of Onancock Main Street’s (OMS) role to support local businesses.
- The Connector Alley | $25,000
Destination Downtown South Boston Inc.
This project will transform a dilapidated alley beside the John Randolph hotel into a vibrant people-oriented gathering space and a downtown connector to existing businesses and restaurants from secondary streets and parking. By introducing public art, the goal is to create an identity for the alleyway that will engage the public with aesthetics and social art practices.
- Alleyway Activation | $25,000
Downtown Wytheville Inc.
This project will fund the creation of a unique one-off alleyway greenspace and pocket park in the downtown area that will provide residents and visitors with a place to gather, host events and feature local artists and mural artwork. Anticipated outcomes include increased foot traffic, promotional photo opportunities and additional space to program new activities in the downtown area.
2023 COMMUNITY VITALITY GRANT AWARDS
- Alley Revitalization Project 2022 | $7,000
Berryville Main Street
This project will revitalize an important alleyway which connects the Main Street of Berryville to a frequently used parking lot and additional businesses. The revitalization efforts will include the cleaning and painting of the pavement, the addition of three park benches, removing barriers and adding aesthetic planters, with anticipated outcomes including increased foot traffic, improved accessibility and aesthetic appeal.
- LOVE Sculpture | $7,000
Clifton Forge Main Street
This project will fund the installation of a LOVE Works sculpture as part of Virginia Tourism’s statewide branding effort, while educating and encouraging further exploration of the area. Anticipated outcomes include increased foot traffic, more sales in downtown businesses and restaurants, and increased social media engagement.
- Town of Leesburg – Main Street Exploration 2023 | $7,000
Town of Leesburg Economic Development Department
This project will use goals and objectives set forth in the Leesburg Legacy Comprehensive Plan to explore stakeholder appetite for a Main Street Program. Anticipated outcomes include a better understanding of the expectations from stakeholder and public engagement regarding Main Street in Leesburg, and suggested methodology to managing the development of a dedicated Main Street organization.
- LFF Strategic Market Analysis | $7,000
Louisa Forward Foundation
This project will fund the hiring of a professional consultant from Main Street America to provide the town with a Strategic Market Report. This report will allow the Foundation to better define its Main Street area and develop a data-driven strategic plan and framework, drawing residents and visitors to the downtown area and increasing local vitality.
- East Main Street Gateway Murals 2022 | $7,000
City of Radford
This project will fund the creation and/or repair of murals in the East Main Downtown district, including wall prep, design solicitation and selection, painting and maintenance that would enhance the beautification of the East Main area. Anticipated outcomes include the development of a strong sense of place and the attraction of tourists and residents into the downtown area.
- Toano H.S. Capacity – Organization Development 2021 | $7,000
Toano Historical Society
This project will fund the hiring of a change management professional who specializes in nonprofit capacity building to create a plan to strengthen and grow the Toano Historical Society into an organization that is better prepared to lead the community’s revitalization efforts. Anticipated outcomes include new volunteers, community participation, and an established Organization Committee with a blueprint for managing the requirements of a Main Street program.
- Main Street Buena Vista Downtown Placemaking 2022 | $5,000
City of Buena Vista
This project will fund the installation of ADA-compliant benches downtown, as well as the installation of planters in the downtown district. Project efforts will include diverse community participation and stakeholder engagement, with expected outcomes including improved accessibility and an increase in foot traffic.
2023 FINANCIAL FEASIBILITY GRANT AWARDS
- Financial Feasibility Grant | $25,000
Tazewell Today Inc.
This project will fund the feasibility study for the Tazewell Today, Inc. lot that was consumed in a fire in 2012 and has since remained vacant. This project will involve the hiring of a consultant as well as determining best use for the space.
- Past Time Antique Burnout Feasibility Study | $10,000
This project will fund the securing of a qualified firm to conduct a structural assessment, construction concepts/estimates, and identification of potential funding sources to repurpose a building deemed unsalvageable after a fire in 2021.
In 2021 the state-designated and nationally accredited Main Street Communities in Virginia created or retained more than 700 jobs and 221 businesses, and generated public and private investments of approximately $76 million.
Photo of Mid Atlantic Railroad Park (one of the grant winners) courtesy of the City of Ashland, Virginia.