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Downtown Perry businesses renovate store fronts with facade grants

Grants from the Main Street Advisory Board are helping businesses look their best

Downtown Perry has seen significant growth over the last decade. Carroll Street alone is fully occupied.

Now, grants from the Main Street Advisory Board are helping businesses look their best from the sidewalk.

"It was very important to have a viable downtown to be successful, to draw people to live here, to shop here," said Perry's Mayor Pro Tempore, Randall Walker. "So we started the revitalization process about 10 years ago."

Enhancement goes hand in hand with revitalization, and that's what the facade grant does. It allows small businesses to enhance their exteriors to make it more appealing for shoppers.

"I did all of our new shingling. The shingles hadn't been replaced in many, many years, so we bought the property and then with that grant, we replaced all the shingles out front," said owner of Gottwals Books, Shane Gottwals.

Gottwals has owned his business for 7 years. He says each improvement with the grant picks up the entire street.

"We just have to all work together... this grant lets us all put our best face forward," Gottwals said.

The shoppers are noticing too.

Suzy O'Neal says she remembers 10 years ago when businesses downtown were struggling to bring in customers.

"People started coming up with new ideas and cleaning up and painting their buildings and realizing what treasures they had underneath their facades and they removed those," O'Neal said.

The improvements are contagious as shop owners compete to out-do their neighbors and attract more foot traffic.

"As their competition does their facades, then they look at that and feel like that's improved business, and so we have other businesses as well from that same area that come and apply for the grants," Walker said.

The facade grant can only be applied for once a year and tops out at $1,000 per store.