Grant awards for participants in the Main Street Arkansas program will increase by $249,500 to a total of $559,000 in fiscal year 2021, Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, announced Thursday (July 23).
“I’m pleased we were able to increase funding to Main Street and Downtown Networks. Through these grants and the patronage of their friends and neighbors, these businesses will continue to drive local economies and contribute to Arkansas’s bright future,” Hurst said.
As a benefit of participation in the Main Street Arkansas or Downtown Network programs, each community receives Downtown Revitalization Grants. The grant amounts, ranging from $3,000 to $25,000, vary based on a community’s level of participation and on the number of businesses in each commercial district.
The Main Street Arkansas communities to receive $25,000 grants are North Little Rock (Argenta), Conway, El Dorado, Eureka Springs, Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Paragould and Searcy; $22,500 each will go to Batesville, Blytheville, Little Rock (Downtown Partnership), Osceola, Ozark, Pine Bluff, Russellville, Siloam Springs, Texarkana and West Memphis; and Dumas, Helena, Paris and Little Rock (SoMa501) will receive $20,000 each.
The following Downtown Partnership communities will receive grants of $3,000 each: Arkadelphia, Calico Rock, Camden, Clarksville, Forrest City, Hardy, Hope, Lonoke, Malvern, Mena, Monticello, Morrilton, Newport, Pocahontas, Prairie Grove, Rector, Warren and Wynne.
The need was expressed by the communities in a survey conducted by the national Main Street program, which is a network of more than 1,600 commercial districts comprising approximately 300,000 small businesses. Over 200 small businesses from Arkansas Main Street and Downtown Network programs responded to the survey.
Following are key findings of the survey.
• Millions of small businesses will be at great risk of closing permanently if the crisis continues for several months. Of the nation’s approximately 30 million small businesses, nearly 7.5 million small businesses may be at risk of closing permanently over the coming five months, and 3.5 million are at risk of closure in the next two months.
• COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on small businesses’ revenue, and millions of Americans employed by our nation’s smallest businesses are at risk of unemployment as a result. Approximately 35.7 million Americans employed by small businesses appear to be at risk of unemployment.
“We conducted a follow-up survey with our Main Street Arkansas communities,” said Scott Kaufman, director of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. “They told us that the most beneficial assistance to them would be rent relief, utility bill relief and payroll assistance. I am very pleased that we can offer this additional assistance in such trying times.”
Since 1984, Main Street Arkansas, a program of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, has been a leading advocate for downtown revitalization providing resources, education and professional assistance to spark life into Arkansas’s traditional commercial areas. Main Street Arkansas works with 22 Main Street programs and 18 Downtown Network Communities.