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Main Street to distribute $15K grant and prepares to apply for another

Posted on July 19, 2019

By Tia Lyons
Staff Writer

As Main Street El Dorado board members line out the details of how they are going to spend a $15,000 grant awarded last month, the group is preparing to pursue another grant opportunity.

In June, Beth Brumley, executive director of MSE, traveled to Little Rock to collect the “big check” for a $15,000 Downtown Revitalization Grant that was awarded by the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program and funneled through Main Street Arkansas.

Brumley said Tuesday that a portion of the DTR grant will be used for the local Downtown Mini Grant program, which assists downtown commercial property and business owners with improvements to their buildings, such as cleaning and replacing awnings.

Brumley said the mini grants typically cover exterior projects, but this year, the AHPP has expanded the terms of the grant to cover interior improvement projects, including painting, lighting, flooring and window treatments.

“It’s for things that will help the interior so if you decided to leave, the building will still be presentable,” Brumley explained.

She said the application period for the mini grants will open July 26 and the deadline to apply is Sept. 13.

A few downtown businesses have already expressed interest in applying for the mini grant, Brumley said, noting that MSE did not offer the mini grants last year.

In 2018, the group was awarded a $15,000 DTR grant from the AHPP and on Tuesday, Brumley said a “chunk of it” was used to introduce Wi-Fi service downtown and to rebuild the MSE website.

Board member Bruce Butterfield asked if a portion of this year’s grant could be used to assist with a proposed ambient-music project for downtown.

“It’s not enough. I’m going to need $35,000. We can use a portion of it,” Brumley said, adding that board members are seeking sponsors to help cover the costs of the project, which has been under discussion for several months.

She said a grant opportunity has arisen for another project MSE has proposed for downtown.

Brumley said the group plans to apply for a Public Art Grant, which will be available only to communities within the Main Street Arkansas network.

The grant is being offered by the newly minted Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, which was created when the former Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism and Arkansas Department of Heritage were merged.

The local public art project has also been the subject of months of discussions, with MSE soliciting ideas from the public and the South Arkansas Arts Center.

Initial discussions centered on crosswalk art, a trend that has been growing worldwide for the past several years.

Brumley said some people have suggested an expansion of the 2009 public art project in which replicas of Les Paul guitars were displayed around the downtown square.

She said $40,000 is available for the Public Art Grant and it will be divvied up between applicants who are approved for the grant.

There are nearly 40 Main Street cities and Downtown Development Network Programs in the state.

Brumley said the grant application period opens in December.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or