EDC helping Liberty Hill makeover

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By MIKE EDDLEMAN

Liberty Hill is getting a makeover one business at a time as a steady stream of participants seek assistance through one of the Economic Development Corporation’s (EDC) grant programs.

Just before Christmas, the EDC and City Council approved the sign grant application for Prosperity Bank, the 18th matching grant awarded under the facade and sign programs.

“I love the fact it is gaining more traction,” said EDC Executive Director Lance Dean. “I want to try and promote it more, but it is spreading by word of mouth as well. It is really helping elevate the look around the community.”

Recently, Dean awarded reimbursement checks to Gintzler International, Wildflower Republic and the new owners of the former Liberty Hill ISD Administration Building on SH 29 as all three completed their work.

To date, the EDC has spent more than $70,000 on the programs, with the approved grant for Liberty Hill Beer Market and now Prosperity Bank not yet paid.

Dean said he has noticed only one speed bump when it comes to the popularity of the programs across the City, and that is conveying the message to some out of town property owners.

“One of the things I really want to help try to get out is I know a lot of tenants are interested in the programs but the landlords need to be educated more on it,” he said. “They may not be local to the area and so this will hopefully help get the word out.”

The amount available for downtown signage may also be something Dean wants to address in the future.

“I’d like to see the sign portion of that increased some,” Dean said. “It hasn’t really been an issue because a lot of them have been for facade signage, but we do have some houses downtown that have turned over recently and they put actual monument signs out in the yard and the $500 doesn’t really go very far for that once you get into that type of signage.”

In addition to the sign and facade grant programs, the EDC has a demolition grant program Dean said no one has applied for to date.

“We do have the demolition program that is in place, but unfortunately no one has taken advantage of that one to date,” he said. “I’d love to see that one get some use, and if people see a shortcoming in that one I’d love to hear about that as well.”

The EDC Board unanimously approved the expansion of the facade grant program last March beyond the previous downtown district limits to include street-facing facades along SH 29 from the high school in the west to Ronald Reagan Blvd. In the east, along RR 1869 from SH 29 north to US 183 and south from SH 29 to Mourning Dove.

The program also stipulates that other properties can be considered on a case by case basis.

The sign grant program, focused on improving the facade around a business sign, offers as much as 50 percent or up to $5,000 of the cost to make the improvements or repairs. The facade grant is also for up to $5,000 to assist in covering the costs associated with facade renovation, awnings, outdoor painting and lighting, landscaping, parking lot improvements and signage.

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