A very good idea is returning to downtown Mansfield.
During Wednesday evening’s meeting of Mansfield City Council, members considered and passed a measure backing a new Downtown Mansfield, Inc. (DMI) Facade Improvement Program aimed at increasing community and economic development, incentivizing new merchants and businesses, and performing improvements on buildings.
A similar program using CDBG funding was undertaken successfully in years past.
The measure before Council appropriated $25,000 from the City’s Downtown Improvement Fund to support the program.
Information about the program was shared during the meeting by Jennifer Kime, Downtown Mansfield’s CEO.
As presented by Kime, the program is envisioned for the next four years, during which ten or so grants would be given annually. There would be two cycles, and two types of recipients — small businesses and larger investors. Match amounts would be adjusted for each. Only one grant per building would be allowed each year.
Kime noted that a matching amount request is pending before the Richland County Foundation, and another investor is anticipating being a part.
The net result would be improvements to 40 to 50 building facades, and public and private investment totalling approximately $600,000.
Criteria would be established, Kime noted, with a review committee established to review applications. No internal work would be funded, only building fronts facing the right-of-way, which could include masonry repair, window repair/replacement, storefronts, awnings, etc.. There would be no monies available for financing debt, inventory, or equipment.
Monies can, however, be used as leverage for larger grant amounts for building rehabilitation, creating even more investment for each program dollar.
DMI would retain ten percent as an administrative fee.
After initial discussion in Council’s Finance Committee, the full measure was passed unanimously by full Council.
On Friday, 1812Blockhouse will end our coverage of Wednesday’s meeting with a look at a new airport investment proposal which would help to transform operations there.