On Saluda’s courthouse square, the circa-1936 Saluda Theater provides a rare example of an Art Deco movie theater. It also became an endangered landmark after its closure and deterioration. In 2017, the town and the Saluda Historical Society came together to restore the venue.
The Saluda Theater benefitted from a Hometown Economic Development Grant.
Now, with the help of a Hometown Economic Development Grant from the Municipal Association, the town is installing new lighting and audiovisual equipment, so it can again show movies as well as host stage plays and concerts.
The impact for Saluda, Town Administrator Tom Brooks said, “is going to be really big.”
In Central, the HEDG program is boosting a Facade Improvement Grant Program, also funded by a local hospitality tax, which provides signage and general appearance upgrades for downtown businesses. The results have been a noticeable improvement, according to Town Administrator Phillip Mishoe.
“What this program really did was get [businesses] motivated,” he said.
Potential uses for the grants can range from infrastructure improvements to business incubator programs. Batesburg-Leesville used its grant award to prepare a master plan of projects its council wanted to pursue with hospitality tax funding — downtown revitalization, parks, events, marketing and renovation of its historic Haynes Auditorium. The revitalization element for this master plan had to balance the unique needs of the original Batesburg business district with the original Leesburg district. The process of creating the master plan included community input sessions. After the plan’s creation was bid out to a firm, community input sessions began.
“The first step of our master plan is to know what’s important to everyone, what are the greatest needs, what suggestions do people have and what is the scope of work for us to see these visions out,” Town Manager Ted Luckadoo said. “There is also the cost analysis part of the study. We need to understand the costs so that [we can] budget annually.”
The 2019 Hometown Economic Development Grant cycle will award grants of up to $25,000 each to as many as 13 cities and towns for proposed projects that would make a positive, measurable and sustainable economic impact. Applications are available online, with a deadline of Friday, September 27 at 5 p.m. The application requires council’s passage of a resolution in support of the grant application.
Cities and towns that receive a grant must provide matching funds. The amount of the match is determined by population. Grant recipients must also submit progress reports and provide financial details about how the grant funds were spent.