Facade Grant helping storefronts along Main Street in Columbiana

Published 5:21 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2022

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By SASHA JOHNS | Community Columnist

The Columbiana Main Street Organization has been making strides in revitalizing one of the most recognizable Main Street districts in Shelby County this year in some creative ways.

Part of the larger Main Street Alabama organization, the small volunteer board in Columbiana has been working on raising a strong membership base and drawing in leaders from the businesses and individuals that become members, to create positive change in the downtown area.

The program is most known for creating the annual Music on Main series. This year, one of the things membership dues have provided the organization with is funds to help businesses make some upgrades to the storefronts in the historic Main Street district of town.

The organization has been able to facilitate matching grants for half of proposed store front upgrades for as much as $5,000.

“With support from the city, the Main Street board is so excited to offer the facade grant program to owners and merchants in the Main Street district,” Main Street board president Grace Graham said. “Our hope is to encourage investments in new paint or new signage for example. This is a big step in keeping Columbiana beautiful while retaining its historic charm.”

Attorney Jill Karle has been the first Main Street business to complete her facade project through Columbiana Main Street. Karle has been on Main Street for 14 years. She found out about the Main Street Facade grant through a flyer.

“I really needed to refresh and update the façade, but had been too busy to think much about it,” she said. “Main Street and the grant gave me the push I needed.”

Attorney Samantha Rush, who also serves on the board, is one of several of the Main Street businesses that have already applied for the grant.

“We hope everyone has noticed the current trend of our Main Street partners taking advantage of the facade grants,” Rush said. “Attractive looking storefronts will generate more business and bring activity back to our downtown area. I look forward to seeing more facade projects, including my own.”

Helping businesses update their look is just the beginning of what the organization wants to do.

Plans are also being made to overhaul flowerbeds and add color through plantings along the charming business district. The organization has also purchased a vintage Cushman that they are repairing through the help of businesses and the CTEC collision repair class taught by Mark McCrary. The goal is to refinish and brand it to make sure the plantings get watered regularly.

As memberships grow, so will the work that gets done. Main Street relies on volunteers and members to plan events that increase traffic, help with freshening up areas that need attention, and to work on committees that organize and facilitate it all. The organization counts on both individual and business memberships at various levels to fund their projects, and they are focused on building community and business through that membership base.

One member said that if you love Columbiana, it’s a great organization to get involved in.

For more information, email Mainstreet@cityofcolumbiana.com.