For years, the 200 block of Main Street in Woodruff suffered from a blighted, abandoned building with no roof. Not only was the littered lot at 224 Main St. a public safety hazard, it also created a drag on potential development along the fast-growing commercial block.
In 2020, the City of Woodruff won a Hometown Economic Development Grant, which helped city leaders transform the former eyesore into a new outdoor event and gathering space that attracts visitors and residents alike. The new “Block 224” space connects Main Street businesses with public parking behind their buildings and with the city’s recently refurbished McKinney Park. Woodruff’s project is just one of many in recent years to receive funding assistance from the Municipal Association’s HEDG program.
Changes to the Hometown Economic Development Grant program
After five years of success, the HEDG program will see a few changes to make it more effective and equitable.
In 2021, grants will be awarded in four population categories with the majority of awards going to cities and towns with populations under 5,000 according to the 2010 census. Certain types of projects will be excluded from consideration in order to ensure grant funds best support economic development in cities and towns, with this year’s eligibility requirements detailed on the grant application.
The 2021 HEDG cycle will award as many as 13 grants of up to $25,000 each. Project proposals must make a positive, measurable and sustainable economic impact on a community.
Those interested should submit an application online by Friday, September 24 at 5 p.m. The application requires that the council pass 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.