Small businesses in the Municipal Service District of Downtown Mount Airy are eligible to apply for grants through the Main Street Solutions Fund to assist with revitalization efforts.
The Main Street Solutions Fund was established in 2009 to provide grants for micropolitans in North Carolina Main Street Communities and Tier 2 and Tier 3 counties.
Gov. Pat McCrory announced an appropriation of $500,000 to the fund in late April to support economic development in small towns across the state, adding that he also supports a renewal of the state’s historic structure tax credits, which are set to expire at the end of 2014. The state’s historic structure tax credits offer a 20 percent tax credit when property owners renovate historic structures. The federal government also offers a 20 percent tax credit for renovation of historic structures.
The Main Street Solutions Fund is designated to assistant small businesses with revitalization efforts within the Municipal Service District of downtown areas in small cities designated as micropolitans, which have a population between 10,000 and 50,000 people, like Mount Airy — towns that took an economic hit after the loss of manufacturing facilities.
Revitalization efforts include job creation, funding infrastructure improvements, and rehabilitating buildings.
Since Mount Airy rejoined the N.C. Main Street Program last year, and established Mount Airy Downtown, Inc., small businesses within the Municipal Service District are eligible to apply for the funds, Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison shared.
“People don’t realize how much these tax credits and grant money can help when they renovate a structure,” Morrison said. “The Main Street Solutions Fund means there is more money in the pot for communities like Mount Airy to come up with projects that create jobs while rehabilitating old buildings, and for property owners in the Municipal Service District, it gives them another option for financial assistance, beyond the facade grants that Mount Airy Downtown offers.”
The Main Street Solutions Fund is considered a matching grant program, with the Department of Commerce and the N.C. Main Street Program authorized to award grants from the fund, in amounts from $25,000 up to $200,000. Funds from the local governments, downtown and main street organizations such as Mount Airy Downtown and public and private funding must be committed to match the amount of grants from the Main Street Solutions fund on a basis of $2 for every $1 provided from the state’s fund.
Applicants may apply for a maximum of $25,000 per full-time job retained or created per business.
The appropriation of $500,000, if approved in the budget, could go a long way to assist more small businesses in downtown areas like Mount Airy.
Since establishment in 2009, the Main Street Solutions Fund has invested $2.6 million into 16 different Main Street communities, according to information on the N.C. Department of Commerce’s website.
According to information on the N.C. Department of Commerce’s website, Main Street districts receiving the Main Street Solution Fund grants averaged 12.1 net new businesses per year in the two years prior to receiving the grant, and 23.3 net new businesses per year in the two years after receiving the grants. There was also an impact to communities receiving the Main Street Solutions Fund grants through new job creation, with 26.5 new jobs per year in the two years prior to receiving the grant money, and the same districts averaging 110.5 net new jobs per year in the two years after receiving the grant.
In 1998, North Carolina enacted the State Historic Preservation Tax Credits and since that time nearly 300 projects in N.C. Main Street Districts have used those credits, resulting in $190 million invested, according to statistics available at the N.C. Department of Commerce website. The federal government also offers a 20 percent federal investment tax credit for income-producing historic properties. North Carolina provides a state tax credit of 30 percent for qualifying rehabilitation of non-income-producing historic structures, including personal residences.
In addition to state and federal tax credits, North Carolina has a State Mill Rehabilitation Credit, created in 2006, can be used when rehabilitating former textile, furniture, and tobacco plants, providing a 40 percent of rehabilitation expenses for counties designated as a Tier 1, including Surry County, for a combined 60 percent tax credit when considering both federal and state tax credits. Tier 1 counties are considered by the N.C. Department of Commerce to be the most distressed counties according to economic well-being.
The N.C. Department of Commerce also lists other grants used to renovate historic properties, including the Building Reuse grants for local governments to renovate vacant buildings. Information about the building reuse grant as well as other grants available for renovation are listed at www.nccommerce.com/ruraldevelopment.
“Investing in North Carolina historic structures preserves our history and creates jobs. These programs make cultural and economic sense,” McCrory said during the announcement of his support for the programs. “Old, abandoned mills and factories are becoming housing and business spaces that are sparkling economic revitalization in towns and cities across our state. Historic revitalization means jobs, economic development, and a rebirth of many downtowns.”
According to Preservation North Carolina…. this state is a leader in preserving historic buildings and structures, and since 1998, the rehabilitation tax credits provided by the state and federal government have brought in more than $1.6 billion in private investments to preserve historic structures, creating an estimated 23,000 jobs across the state.
All projects should support the vision of the Mount Airy Downtown and align with economic development goals for the town, and also must directly benefit small businesses.
Anyone who is interested in applying for the Main Street Solutions Fund matching grant program must apply through the Mount Airy Downtown group, who will submit an application jointly with the organization and the small business that would benefit from the funds. For more information about the Main Street Solutions Fund, contact Mount Airy Downtown’s Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison at 786-4511 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jessica Johnson may be reached at 719-1933 and on Twitter @MountAiryJess.