The Town of Johnston plans to live up to its nickname.
“Although, we are considered the Peach Capital of the World, we have no peach growers selling their peaches here in town,” said Frances Quarles, Johnston administrator, adding that farmers sell other produce — but no peaches — every Thursday at the farmers market.
But change is coming. With the help of a $25,000 Hometown Economic Development Grant
from the Municipal Association the town won in 2018, town officials are securing professional services to renovate and redesign an old police station. The idea is to repurpose the structure as a welcoming place to spur downtown commerce — ultimately a place where locals and visitors can buy baskets of peaches and town memorabilia.
Johnston’s project is just one example of the uses that qualify for the competitive grant program: Professional services, such as developing master plans or providing analyses or materials for marketing; assets, such as publicly owned water or sewer projects; and programs, such as those developed with business incubators.
The Association’s 2019 Hometown Economic Development Grant program will award grants of up to $25,000 each to as many as 12 cities and towns that submit winning proposals for projects that will make a positive impact on quality of life. The grant program, which began in 2016, also promotes and recognizes innovation in economic development practices.
A key step in the application process
is the council’s passage of a resolution in support of the grant application. Applications for the grants are accepted online. The deadline for entries this year is 5 p.m. on October 12.
The grants fund projects that can be replicated in other cities, will produce measurable results and can be maintained over time.
Cities and towns that receive a grant must provide matching funds. The amount of the match is determined by population. Those selected for grants are also required to submit reports about the progress and successes of each project and provide financial details about how the grant funds were spent.
Grant awards will be announced by October 31.