Small town revitalization seeks to improve livability and economic activity in small towns. Increasing urbanization, aging infrastructure and the ongoing pandemic have all put a strain on available resources. Small town revitalization grants, however, offer funding to spur redevelopment projects. The approach your town takes to revitalization will depend on your specific needs, whether it's addressing a run-down commercial district or improving traffic flow and walkability in important corridors.
Just as there are many paths to small town revitalization, there are many potential funding sources — so many it's impossible to give a comprehensive list. As administrations and priorities change, so do grant programs and requirements across different funding cycles. In this post, we'll look at some common public small town revitalization grants and discuss how consulting with grant experts can help you before, during and after the grant application process.
The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program provides some of the most common small town revitalization grants. Authorized by the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, the program is designed to help communities fund projects tailored to their specific needs. While most projects will require multiple funding sources, the CDBG program's longevity and stability make it a reliable, though competitive, funding source. Another reason for the CDBG program's popularity is that it can fund a wide variety of projects, though public infrastructure improvements are the most popular.
The CDBG program can fund the installation of public facilities and improvements like:
To be eligible for a CDBG, a project must meet one of these national objectives:
Most projects focus on the first objective. Meeting it requires not only defining the benefit to low- and moderate-income persons but also the area of impact.
Brownfield redevelopment is the cornerstone of many revitalization projects. Common pollutants, like petroleum products, pose a public health threat and depreciate property values — cleanup can increase nearby residential property values 5% to 15.2%. Through brownfield redevelopment, formerly blighted or unused properties can be put to residential or commercial use, such as a revitalized riverfront or Main Street corridor. Municipalities can remove vacant buildings and eyesores to create a refreshed, commercially viable district.
To help meet these costs, the U.S. EPA offers several grants, including:
The Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) provides funding to data-driven transportation projects that aim to reduce traffic fatalities, especially among seniors and pedestrians. The program also prioritizes road safety improvements in rural areas. Projects HSIP can fund include:
Typically awarded by state Economic Development or Opportunity agencies, corridor grants are known by many different names, including commercial corridor or Main Street revitalization programs. Despite the different titles, these grants share a common purpose: To revitalize commercial districts and hasten economic recovery. These grants can provide for projects like facade restoration and construction.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development Broadband ReConnect Program provides grants for rural communities to expand high-speed internet access for homes, businesses and essential services. The program also offers loans and loan-grant combinations.
These grants are a small selection of the federal and state funding available to municipalities for revitalization. Many projects are also eligible for privately funded grants, loans and other funding opportunities. An experienced consultant can help you apply for grants and coordinate requirements throughout the project's life.
Funding a redevelopment project is a marathon, not a sprint. Most small town revitalization projects require multiple funding sources, including private investment, philanthropic awards, and state or local funding. In addition to investigating and applying for small town revitalization grants, a process that can take months, you must also keep track of each grant's documentation, reporting and outreach requirements. For example, any grant that requires a municipality to match funding will also stipulate a strict set of procedures for public input.
Managing requirements and timelines of a complex funding stack can be daunting. At Fehr Graham, we have successfully supported more than $200 million in financial solutions to projects like yours. Our in-house grant writer reviews 40-50 kinds of funding daily. With this depth of knowledge, we can identify grants your project is most competitive for, put together a thorough application and help you meet post-award requirements.