Chillicothe: Using Diversified Funding for Project Implementation
January 27, 2022 | Ben White
The path to $1 billion in public and private investment in Missouri Main Street downtown districts has been rich with diverse improvement projects funded by using various sources and funding options. Chillicothe’s use of available state financing options and pairing projects with local, private fundraising to complete large-scale projects provides a model for other Missouri Main Street communities. Two projects have really stood out using this funding model: Silver Moon Plaza and the purchase and renovation of the Main Street Building.
Silver Moon Plaza truly is a lemon to lemonade type of story. Due to disrepair and years of neglect three buildings unfortunately had to be demolished, leaving a large empty lot. The owner of the demolished buildings, who is also the owner of the Milbank Mills company, donated the land to Main Street Chillicothe. The organization and other community leaders quickly worked on developing a plan to turn the land into an area that could be used by the community. This three-year project turned the once empty lot into a beautiful space that Main Street Chillicothe uses for events, cultural attractions, and so much more. This plan turned into the project that came to be known as Silver Moon Plaza, named after a product of Milbank Mills, Silver Moon Feeds. The funding for the project came from multiple sources in a true public-private partnership, a staple of the Main Street Movement. First, funding came from the Missouri Development Finance Board, a tax credit program focused on infrastructure and economic development projects. This was the catalyst for a $750,000 pocket park project. Additional funding came from private donors in the community that believed in this important project.
Another rehabilitation project that Main Street Chillicothe was able to complete and lead by example with the Main Street Approach™ was the purchase and rehabilitation of the Main Street building. This building, unfortunately, had become an eyesore at the entrance to downtown as the previous owner did not put the resources into the renovation of their building and preservation as a viable storefront for their interest and other business owners to come before Main Street Chillicothe purchased it. This rehabilitation project utilized funding from the Neighborhood Assistance Program, a Missouri tax credit program focused on creating jobs and revitalizing buildings to economically benefit the community and its tax base. This $180,000 project not only beautified an entrance into downtown with a mural placed on the outside wall, but it provided funding for the organization through rental commercial space on the first floor and residential space on the second floor. This project fixed an eyesore and turned it into a real asset for the downtown.
State and federal funding can be important tools in the toolbelt for both organizations and building owners. One way to keep on top of available opportunities is to sign up for the monthly MMSC Grant Resource Directory; you can do that by signing up here: https://www.momainstreet.org/Grant-Resource-Directory/: Community projects, such as the two described above, take planning and buy-in from not only the Main Street program but district stakeholders. It is crucial to establish partnerships within the community to help with these large-scale projects. These elements are crucial to the Main Street Approach™ and successful, impactful revitalization.