On July 24, 2019 here in Virginia, Governor Ralph Northam announced more than $144,000 in Virginia Main Street grants for 12 projects. Downtown Investment Grants were awarded to the towns of Altavista, Blackstone, Orange, and St. Paul, and the cities of Hopewell and Staunton. Six Commercial District Affiliate grants were awarded to the towns of, Scottsville, Pulaski, South Hill, and Bowling Green and the city of Radford. Applications from the towns of Ashland, Halifax, Lawrenceville, and South Boston, and the cities of Franklin and Petersburg have been awarded technical services to complete proposed projects.
“Downtown revitalization, combined with the development of strong local entrepreneurial ecosystems, are important components of creating bustling commercial districts that attract residents and visitors alike,” said Governor Northam. “These grants and technical assistance will continue to transform our downtown communities, supporting our efforts to grow and diversify regional economies and helping our small and community-based businesses thrive.”
Downtown Investment Grants (DIG), administered by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), are for design and economic vitality projects targeting areas of specific need in historic downtown neighborhoods located in designated Virginia Main
Street communities. These grants are available to designated Main Street organizations to accelerate the economic revitalization of their downtown districts by helping implement innovative strategies, plans, and programs that create an environment for increased private investment.
Commercial District Affiliate grants, administered by DHCD, are for projects targeting areas of specific need in historic commercial neighborhoods located in more than 90 Virginia Main Street affiliate communities. These grants are available to communities and organizations to accelerate the economic revitalization of their downtown districts by helping build organizational capacity or fund design projects that create an environment for increased private investment.
“In the last five years, designated Main Street communities have sparked more than $406 million in private investment in their districts,” said Secretary of Commerce and Trade Brian Ball. “Attracting private investment continues to be a goal for all of our Main Street communities, and through this funding, we are encouraging new investment in the community and creating sustainable downtowns for all to enjoy.”
In 1985, DHCD adopted the Main Street program for Virginia to help prevent downtown districts across the Commonwealth from economic decline. This unique program is Virginia’s state coordinating program for Main Street America, which works to re-energize economic development of downtown communities while utilizing their cultural assets and character. This is further accomplished by pooling the resources of their local civic and business leaders who are determined to bring their Main Street communities back to life. The Virginia Main Street program comprises 26 designated communities and more than 90 Commercial District Affiliates throughout Virginia.
Photo of downtown Staunton, Virginia (one of the grant winners) at night by Storm Cunningham.