KINGSPORT - Economic development officials hope a $60,000 infusion into a facade grant program will accelerate already booming work on downtown buildings.
The Kingsport Economic Development Board and Kingsport Office of Small Business Development and Entrepreneurship administer the program, funded by the city using grant money. The Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the $60,000 in funding at its last meeting.
"About every building downtown appears to have something going on," KEDB Chairman Larry Estepp said of projects that range from spruced up storefronts and facade restorations and improvements to complete gutting of some buildings.
Assistant City Manager for Development Jeff Fleming said all that remains for the money to be transferred is some paperwork. The source is the federal Community Development Block Grant Program, and the KEDB and KOSBE must agree in writing to follow federal regulations in giving out the money.
Aundrea Wilcox, executive director of the KOSBE, said three projects turned in late last year but turned down probably will be resubmitted with the required details and additional information.
Of the original $50,000 grant, $17,500 remains, making for a total of $67,500 in available funds.
Among building owners that plan to submit applications are the Downtown Kingsport Association, which has gutted and is restoring the old Kesterson Photography building on Main Street.
Six applications were recently turned down for lack of more specific information.
The facade projects can receive a maximum of $5,000 per facade or $10,000 for a corner building. The grant can cover no more than 50 percent of the cost and is awarded after the work is completed.
For more information about the facade grant program contact Wilcox at 392-8801 or by e-mail at email@example.com or contact NETWORKS â€“ Sullivan Partnership Director of Business Development Betty Martin at 279-7682 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On other matters, Estepp said the Kingsport Pavilion retail project on East Stone Drive is still scheduled to open in October or November, and the new owners of the Fort Henry Mall seem serious and ready to develop outparcels and renovate existing space.
"I think you will see another large investment going into the Fort Henry Mall," Estepp said.
Board members expressed disappointment that Chattanooga lost out to Mississippi on the location of a new Toyota plant but said the Tri-Cities still would reap some benefits for businesses that supply the automaker.