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Community input sought for development of new revitalization grant program

"We don't want to develop a program and then no one apply for it because it doesn't doesn't suit what they would benefit from," said City Administrator Steve Robinson.

Steve Robinson
Steve Robinson

WORTHINGTON — Plans for a new economic revitalization program are in the works after the Southwest Initiative Foundation applied for and received grant funding. Prior to application, Worthington was identified as one of three recipient cities in the area. Litchfield and Granite Falls were also identified as recipients.

Worthington city staff met with representatives from SWIF near the start of the new year for preliminary discussions about the grant funds. Though plans are in the early stages, the downtown corridor, North Humiston corridor, Oxford Street and Diagonal Road will all likely be targeted areas for projects.

Worthington was allocated $750,000 in grant funds, which can cover up to 30% of a project's cost. While specifications are still being defined, $600,000 in loan guarantees will also be available. It will be possible to qualify for both a grant and a loan guarantee for the same project.

“What's interesting about this is we haven't yet defined what an eligible project is,” said Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson. “Which gives us latitude to develop the program that would suit the needs of the people that would benefit. So, the first step we're going to do is have robust community engagement.”

Robinson said there are plans in the coming weeks to launch a sort of “door-to-door” campaign in order to meet with property owners and business owners and receive feedback on developing a program to best suit their needs. The grant will likely focus on reconditioning buildings, with funds targeting anything from work on the exterior building envelope, plumbing improvements, interior work, or handicap accessibility updates.

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“It could go towards any number of things, but we want to go out and talk to people and say, ‘Alright, if we have this grant program, how would you envision you might apply for it, and how it would benefit you by improving your building?’” Robinson shared.

While specifications for the grant project are currently undefined, Robinson said the goal is to have it rolled out by early spring.

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