Investment stimulates new investment | Opinions

You have to spend money to make money, the saying goes.

Last week, the Kendallville Redevelopment Commission, in the space of about an hour, drafted and authorized a plan to offer up to $300,000 to owners of downtown buildings for facade work in addition to the city’s $2 million Main Street Preservation Grant.

The $2 million state grant will already help a dozen building owners repair their downtown buildings, but that’s only about half of the 25 buildings that have been submitted for the project.

Instead of waiting for the next grant opportunity or shrugging their shoulders and saying “Oh well,” city leaders instead raised the stakes, pushing more of their own chips into the pot.

It now seems likely that around 20 buildings, more or less a few depending on how construction costs go, will get a makeover.

Stop for a moment and think about this.

Within two years, some 20 buildings in downtown Kendallville could undergo the renovations they have gone decades without.

It’s a transformation, about as close to overnight as it gets when it comes to government money and construction.

What is happening in Kendallville is also a good example of the effectiveness of these types of community grants, as the investment made through grants stimulates other investments in the community.

As part of the $2 million grant, the city was to provide a match of $200,000, while building owners will have to invest 15% of their construction costs, or an additional $300,000.

Then Kendallville didn’t just leave motivated building owners out in the cold, so it opened its wallet to offer another $300,000. This grant program will require a 25% match from building owners, attracting an additional $75,000 in private investment.

And, over a year from now, when these facade projects are complete, expect to see additional investment start rolling in. When half of downtown looks neat and new, it puts pressure on the owners of the remaining worn/empty/neglected buildings to step in or sell to someone who will.

And if you think the money stops there, you’d be naive. Kendallville is also seeking regional READI funds to help spur upstairs residential development downtown and no doubt the city will actively pursue other improvement projects to improve its core and downtown corridors. -town.

When left to fend for itself before these programs, rot seemed the most inevitable outcome for the downtown core. Now the opposite.

Some residents complain about the money paid, lamenting why invest when there is “nothing downtown”.

But like growing a garden, you can’t just look at a plot full of weeds and rocks and covered in trash and expect crops to grow. You must first clean the site and make it suitable for growth before you start sprouting vegetables and flowers.

Investments made by the state and the city over the past three years have attracted more private investment to the downtown area than there has been in decades.

Kendallville should be applauded for putting its money where its mouth is. Other communities should take note.

Time has shown that these types of changes will not happen on their own.

OUR POINT OF VIEW is written in turn by Grace Housholder, Andy Barrand, Michael Marturello and Steve Garbacz. We welcome reader feedback.

Comments are closed.