A burned-out, boarded-up downtown storefront once blighted Union's Main Street, but when the property owner donated it to the City of Union, it provided a new opportunity. The city and the Union County Chamber of Commerce aimed to redevelop it into a multi-use outdoor space. They obtained a Hometown Economic Development Grant in 2019 to help them do so.
This new space will provide a valuable pass-through for downtown businesses in Union. It will have decorative elements such as a metal archway announcing the space as "The Depot" – a reference to Union's railroad history — as well as outdoor furniture, and will be able to serve as an event venue.
City officials broke ground on The Depot Alleyway in late June 2020. The city is using the design-build method for the project, a project management style that allows maximum design flexibility and cost savings while minimizing scheduling delays.
This concept rendering shows the City of Union's plans for The Depot alleyway project.
Photo: Alison South.
The City of Marion also received a grant in last year's cycle, which allowed for an expansion of its downtown facade improvement grant program. Since the façade program's reestablishment in 2017, it has seen the completion of more than 13 projects, with more coming up, Historic Marion Revitalization Association Executive Director Stephanie Rizzo said. The program's income sources include the city itself, fundraising and grants.
"Not only does our grant cover facade work, but also structural work to our buildings located within the Historic District. Business owners are eager to invest in their buildings knowing there is support available, often giving a little extra encouragement where it may have been lacking before," she said.
Some of the other projects that grant funding has helped in the last year are a farmers' market pavilion in Calhoun Falls and a park honoring Dave the Potter in Edgefield. The grants are also contributing to handicapped-accessibility upgrades for the Town of Prosperity's Depot and strategic plans in places like Jonesville and Dillon.
The 2020 Hometown Economic Development Grant cycle will award as many as 13 grants of up to $25,000 each. Project proposals can be anything that would make a positive, measurable and sustainable economic impact on a community. Those interested should submit an application online by Friday, September 25 at 5 p.m. The application requires that the council passes a resolution in support of the grant application.
Cities and towns that receive a grant must also provide matching funds. The municipal population determines the required amount of matching. Grant recipients must also submit progress reports and provide financial details about how they spent grant funds.
Find the HEDG application and sample resolution at www.masc.sc (keyword: hometown grant). For questions, contact Scott Slatton at email@example.com.