Mathews gets grant to study downtown area

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Feb 01, 2012 - 03:43 PM

Mathews County has been awarded a $35,000 community planning grant by the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development.

The grant is for the purpose of analyzing the downtown area of Mathews and determining ways to retain and recruit businesses, said Mathews County Planning Director John Shaw. It will pay for a branding and marketing study, consumer surveys, and a plan for enhancing the business climate.

The planning grant is a prerequisite for a $700,000 VDHCD Community Development Block Grant that, if obtained, would provide actual construction funding for improving building facades and streetscapes, said Shaw. He said that DHCD requires a planning process before awarding those construction funds.

"It’s to get away from the ‘Field of Dreams’ idea of ‘if you build it, they will come,’" he said. "You need a rationale to say why this will work to improve business, to enhance opportunities to recruit and retain businesses for long-term viability."