Drakes seeks grant for downtown

Published 2:12 pm Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Drakes Branch Town Council is applying for pre-planning grant funds from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VDHCD) for a downtown revitalization project.

“The storefronts here in Drakes Branch and the properties on the Main Street are very antiquated,” said Councilman Roscoe Eubanks. “If we get a grant to upgrade the storefronts and properties here in town, that would make them attractive to new businesses.”

He said the recent addition of the Farmers Market in Drakes has helped to get new people to see the town. 

According to a letter from the town, the initiative to seek funding was based on an overwhelming response from community members and business leaders at an April 27 meeting, facilitated by the Commonwealth Regional Council at the Drakes Town Hall.

“I think the grant is much needed to decorate and build the town back up,” said business owner Sharon Stovall. “I just think if the town can be beautified again, more people will want to come in and bring their business here.”

Stovall owns S Beauty Salon in downtown Drakes.

During the April meeting, options were presented concerning possible grants available to business owners for downtown revitalization. Representatives were in attendance from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development (VDHCD) and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).

VDHCD’s Associate Director of Community Development Policy Tamarah Holmes previously said at the meeting, “based on the email I received, the community is interested in learning a lot about our water and sewer resources, as well as our entrepreneurship and business development.”

Holmes also said grant money could be utilized for assessment in the pre-planning phase and “that may be potentially a resource for Drakes Branch.”

According to the VDHCD, up to $10,000 is available for Community Organizing Planning grants and up to $15,000 is available for Community or Economic Assessment Planning grants.

Councilman Noah Davis said, “I think a revitalization grant will help because it will improve the appearance of the town.”

He said if the buildings were modern and well-maintained, it will improve the town’s economy because more individuals will invest in the town. 

A Community Organizing Planning Grant would allow the town to establish goals and objectives, conducting assessments to determine the strengths and weaknesses, as well as develop work plans and implementation strategies, according to the VDHCD.

The town’s letter stated that the town is required to submit letters of support from business and property owners along with the town’s application. All letters of support are due by Thursday.

“This will enable us to include it with our application,” the letter stated. “It can be a simple letter stating your interest and you can reference the request for a pre-planning grant with the intent of pursuing funding for a Downtown Revitalization Project. You may also include anything else you would like to add.”

For more information, call the Drakes Branch Town Office at (434) 568-3091.