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Up to $4,800 available for downtown upgrades
Vanilla Bean BEFORE.jpg
The back of what is now The Vanilla Bean Baking Company was uninviting before renovation efforts began. Improving property like this is exactly the goal of grant money now available through Main Street McMinnville.
Vanilla Bean - AFTER.jpg
As a completed project, no money is available to pay for upgrades to The Vanilla Bean, but the back patio area looks great nonetheless and shows how downtown can be enhanced.

Main Street McMinnville began accepting applications Tuesday, Jan. 22, as part of a new Design Grant Program. This program serves only commercial projects located in the Historic Downtown District. 

MSM has created four grant types – façade improvement, awning, rear entrance, and safety. The façade improvement and rear entrance grants have a maximum grant amount of $4,800 and the awning and safety grants have a maximum grant amount of $2,000. 

There are several grants to give out in each type except the safety grant. Property owners are expected to contribute a 25 percent match to the project.

According to MSM executive director Katie Kemezis, they will accept grants on a rolling basis, which means first come, first reviewed, from Jan. 22 through March 22. 

“Our staff and Design Committee members are available for questions and are happy to provide assistance to ensure applications are completed correctly and have the best chance for approval,” said Kemezis. “They have created Design Grant Program guidelines which provide in-depth detail into the application process, grant requirements, and other important information.” 

A key element for approval is the property owner’s ability to partner and work with the Design Committee throughout the grant and construction process. 

The funding only covers exterior improvements that have yet to start – it cannot fund work that has already started or been completed. 

Additionally, depending on the type of work, the project might have to receive approval from the Historic Zoning Commission overseen by the Department of Community Development. Building permits also might be needed.

The source of funding for the Design Grant Program is a federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) that has been passed through the Department of Economic and Community Development at the state of Tennessee. CDBG funding encourages investment and revitalization of downtowns like McMinnville across the country. In this round, five other communities in Tennessee received funding.

Interested parties can contact Katie Kemezis at 931-506-5335 or visit the Main Street McMinnville office for an application.