Facade Program helps businesses spruce up store fronts
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — Downtown Morgantown is set to receive a facelift with the help of the new Facade Program from Main Street Morgantown.
The program will give out forgivable loans to applying downtown businesses to help make repairs and improvements to the exterior of their buildings, explained Main Street Morgantown Executive Director Barbara Watkins
“The repairs are paid for 50/50, spilt between Main Street Morgantown and the business owner,” she said. “So if costs of repairs are $10,000, then we will give them a forgivable loan for $5,000.”
Watkins added that the loan will be forgiven as long as the business owner stays in Morgantown for five years; if they leave the area before then they will still owe the remainder of the balance.
Watkins also added that she believes keeping the downtown area inviting and vibrant has multiple benefits for the city. While she believes the area to already be attractive, she doesn’t think that means parts couldn’t use some touching up.
“Keeping Morgantown looking beautiful is important for the local economy,” she said. “A visually appealing downtown is one where people are going to want to shop, dine and live in.”
Main Street Morgantown previously had a similar program that would fund up to half of a business’s $1,000 or less refurbishment. The increase in funding comes from the city of Morgantown, and has been in effect since July 1.
“The increase in funding increases the scope of projects Main Street Morgantown can help take on,” she said. “And it gives business owners more incentive to come to or stay in Morgantown.”
Watkins added that many of the projects the Facade Program are looking into funding are relatively simple. She believes that even small refurbishments can make a big difference to a storefront.
“A lot of these buildings just need a white washing, a new awning, repainted windows or other smaller improvements of that nature,” Watkins said. “Just small things that would help them look their best.”
While the Facade Program has only been in place for a few months, Watkins said that several businesses have already submitted applications seeking loans. She hopes over the next few months to see projects taking shape.
“It’s really a great opportunity for local businesses,” Watkins said. “There’s not a better deal available for anyone wishing to refurbish the exterior of their storefront.”
Main Street Morgantown President Charles McEwen agrees with Watkins that the Facade Program is a plus for local business and Morgantown in general. He added that a better looking downtown is important for many reasons.
“Beyond just being aesthetically pleasing, there are good reasons to want downtown to have the best face possible,” he said. “A better looking area will be one more people will want to spend time and money in.”
McEwen said the funding increase is a big step forward for Main Street Morgantown, a big plus for downtown businesses and a worthwhile investment for the city of Morgantown.
“Repairs can be expensive, and there are many shop owners who want to improve there facade but maybe don’t have the funds,” he said. “By Main Street helping them their businesses will go on further to help the city of Morgantown.”
Information from: The Exponent Telegram, http://www.theet.com