Wayne County’s Hoosier Enduring Legacy Program has $2 million available to infuse new growth into participating communities’ downtowns.

Grants up to $100,000 are available to rehabilitate downtown retail or commercial building space in Cambridge City, Dublin, East Germantown, Economy, Milton, Richmond and Spring Grove. The grants require a 25% match — for example, $25,000 for a $100,000 grant.

Two informational meetings about the Downtown Revitalization Grant Program are scheduled at 6 p.m. June 10 in the Wayne County Administration Building, 401 E. Main St., Richmond, and at 6 p.m. June 12 in the Cambridge City Building, 127 N. Foote St., Cambridge City.

Information will be provided for business and building owners interested in applying for a grant. Steve Higinbotham, the county’s director of facilities and development and an administrator of the program, said a goal is to provide at least one grant in each participating community. Applications will be accepted through June 30.

More information about eligibility and the application process is also available online through a link on the county government website’s homepage, co.wayne.in.us. There are maps of the eligibility areas selected by each community on the website.

Richmond, which allows work already begun this year to be eligible, has chosen to include the Depot District and downtown region in the grant program. The Depot District eligibility area is bordered by North Sixth Street, the railroad and North E Street, North 11th Street and North D Street. Richmond’s downtown eligibility area is bordered by South A, North A, Fifth and 10th streets.

The other communities identified areas along individual streets. Three chose U.S. 40, which is Main Street in East Germantown, Main Street in Cambridge City and Cumberland Street in Dublin. Milton selected Central Avenue, Economy picked Second Street and Spring Grove identified Chester Boulevard from Sim Hodgin Parkway to Sylvan Nook Drive.

The program, which is one of 33 HELP programs in participating county communities, includes $1 million in contributions from Richmond’s and the towns’ American Rescue Plan Act money and another $1 million from the county’s ARPA allotment. The grants will be five-year forgivable loans that will be forgiven in full at the end of a five-year compliance period.

The goals are to strengthen the downtown business base, incentivize second-story residential development, invest in visible improvements and increase business patronization in downtowns. 

Eligible exterior improvements include door and entry replacement, masonry cleaning or restoration, storefront redesign or construction, carpentry and painting, window replacement and restoration, and roof repair or replacement.

Interior improvements eligible for grants include environmental remediation, electrical wiring upgrades, HVAC system upgrades, plumbing upgrades and elevator or sprinkler system upgrades.

Applications will be judged with a competitive scoring criteria to select grant recipients. 

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A version of this article appeared in the June 5 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.