‘Putting skin in game’ helps city net $300,000 state grant for downtown improvements

Published 10:06 am Monday, November 13, 2023

By Buzz Trexler
Star Correspondent
The City of Elizabethton is one of 17 communities sharing $4 million in Downtown Improvement Grants, according to a release from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development and it’s been suggested that City Council’s prioritization of downtown helped ‘score points’ with the state.
Elizabethton will receive $300,000 and as part of the program will be required to match 25 percent of that amount, $75,000. To be eligible for a Downtown Improvement Grant, communities had to submit an application and be a designated Tennessee Downtowns or Tennessee Main Street community.

Assistant City Manager Logan Engle said during Thursday night’s Elizabethton City Council meeting that earlier in the day the city was notified it had been a recipient of the grant.
“We did apply for the Downtown Improvement Grant again this year. We increased that grant amount to $300,000 and we got the whole amount,” she told commissioners. “We just found out today. So, you’ll be seeing a grant contract coming to you eventually from the state.”
Engle said those are additional funds that can assist property owners in improving downtown buildings. She said a state staff member who runs the program commented that what helps Elizabethton over other communities is that the City Council has already prioritized the program and is “putting skin in the game” through funding and that’s “scoring more points.”
Grants were awarded to organizations that illustrated the need for improvements and the ability to execute an effective design plan for building facades, wayfinding signage, gateways and streetscapes.
“I congratulate each of the recipients that have been awarded funding through the latest round of Downtown Improvement Grants,” said Gov. Bill Lee. “Tennessee’s downtown districts and main streets are the focal point of our communities, and these grants will help attract new business and promote tourism at the local level.”
“Tennessee would not be known for its exceptional quality of life if it weren’t for the leaders across our state that have chosen to invest in their main streets and downtown districts,” said TNECD Commissioner Stuart C. McWhorter. “These 17 communities have a better chance at securing new investment and spurring job creation because of the Downtown Improvement Grants, and we are proud to partner with them in their revitalization efforts.”

“We are excited that these 17 communities will benefit from the latest round of Downtown Improvement Grants and look forward to seeing how each city and town uses this opportunity for revitalization to create jobs and investment in their central business districts in the years to come,” said TNECD Main Street Director Nancy Williams.

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Other communities receiving Downtown Improvement Grants are:
– Bristol, Sullivan County, $300,000
– Cleveland, Bradley County, $300,000
– Dyersburg, Dyer County, $300,000
– Etowah, McMinn County, $300,000
– Halls, Lauderdale County, $206,250
– Johnson City, Washington County, $300,000
– Lawrenceburg, Lawrence County, $150,000
– Lewisburg, Marshall County, $300,000
– Madisonville, Monroe County, $300,000
– Martin, Weakley County, $299,276
– McMinnville, Warren County, $300,000
– Newbern, Dyer County, $177,373
– Sevierville, Sevier County, $159,600
– Smithville, DeKalb County, $300,000
– Sweetwater, Monroe County, $150,000
– Union City, Obion County, $300,000