The Conway Downtown Partnership will accept applications for the 2016-2017 Downtown Conway Improvement Grant until Sept. 30.
Downtown Partnership Executive Director Kim Williams said she has received several applications already.
The $5,000 grant is funded through Main Street Arkansas and allows businesses and property owners to get financial assistance for building improvement projects and historical preservation.
For the 2015-2016 grant season, Williams said the organization gave $1,000 to Wyck Blankenship, owner of Wyck’s Place beauty salon, $1,000 to Granger Davis at Edward Jones and $3,000 to property owner Chris Thornton.
Williams said the grant is a matching grant, which means a recipient must put in an equal amount of money as the grant toward the project. She said the grant is awarded based on the scope of the project, visibility and how impactful the development will be on the community.
When applying, Williams said candidates need to submit all estimates including design renderings they have done, plans and total financial investment.
The Downtown Partnership joined forces with Main Street Arkansas in January, Williams said.
The mission of Main Street America, according to its website, is to be the "leading resource for communities seeking to revitalize their historic downtown commercial districts and to provide technical assistance and expertise to designated Main Street communities."
"Historic preservation is a true economic tool for your community," Williams said.
Not only does it bring job growth, but increasing and sustaining downtown businesses and ownership also allows for impact on the community, including being able to shop local and keep those finances in the community, Williams said.
"This is the impact we’re really trying to encourage and understand," she said.
Williams said since 2001, private investors have put in more than $200 million into their buildings downtown.
"Normally, the private investments follow after the public," she said, noting all the development that has been added to the downtown Conway area in the recent years, including Roger’s Plaza, the archway, new lighting, benches, sidewalk work and foliage.
She said just since they renewed their partnership with Main Street Arkansas earlier this year, there have been several businesses in downtown that have taken it upon themselves to revamp their shops.
While they only have $5,000 total to give, Williams said there are other services from Main Street Arkansas that come along with being a downtown business and property owners which are free including help with interior and exterior design plans, how to properly layout their shop for visual effect, accounting and tax help and other small business suggestions.
"It gives them a plan on what they can do and gives them an idea," she said.
If interested, Williams said property owners could contact her so she can communicate with Main Street Arkansas.
If applicants are not chosen for this season, Williams said they could start preparing now and submit requests in August 2017 for the 2017-2018 grant season.
(Staff writer Hilary Andrews can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 505-1215. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)