"Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and they often find their home in Main Streets across Rhode Island," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "By investing in our Main Streets and making them more attractive places to spend time and money, we're supporting our local economies. We've seen great success in cities and towns that have received previous rounds of funding through this program, and I can't wait to see the improvements from these new projects."
The towns receiving funding are as follows: Barrington, East Providence, New Shoreham, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence, Warren, Westerly, and Woonsocket. The Main Street Rhode Island Streetscape Improvement Fund awards grants or loans on a competitive basis for improvements to the state's commercial districts, and projects can receive up to $300,000 in funding. Applicants must have matching funds of at least 30% of the total project cost.
"The Commerce Corporation's Streetscape Improvement Fund breathes new vitality into main streets across our state," said President of the Senate Dominick J. Ruggerio. "The beautification efforts are good for local businesses and the pedestrians who use the area, and they may help as a catalyst to additional development. I am grateful to Jesse Saglio and the other Commerce officials who joined us to review the needs of this area earlier this month, and I look forward to walking along a revitalized Smith Street in Centredale."
Today's announcement marks the third round of grants under the Main Street Improvement Fund, with the fund now awarding 25 projects totaling just under $3 million.
"We are pleased to receive news of this Main Street Improvement Fund award," said North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi. "This beautification project will spark new interest, civic pride, and economic activity into the important Village of Centredale corridor. We thank Governor Raimondo, the General Assembly, and the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation for this initiative, and their tireless advocacy for commerce throughout the town and the state."
The projects to be funded are:
Barrington to receive $58,450 to order and install eight vehicular wayfinding signs and six wayfinding signs in the "Village Center" section of the East Bay Bike Path for pedestrians and cyclists.
East Providence to receive $69,969 to place flags, banners, wayfinding signs, landscaping, and public art and design elements along the four block portion of Bullocks Point Avenue and the East Bay Bike Path to increase traffic and business to small businesses located in the area.
New Shoreham to receive $39,935 to add improvements to Nicholas Ball Park, including enhancing safety and wayfinding, facilitating traffic flow, and enriching the experience of the downtown village district.
North Providence to receive $150,000 to revive the corridor along Route 44 within Centredale Village with greenery that will help foster foot traffic to small businesses.
Pawtucket to receive $300,000 to enhance access to the Dexter Street's commercial corridor, improving the city's link to Broad Street and the forthcoming Pawtucket train station. This includes increasing pedestrian and bicycle safety and providing green infrastructure and shade.
Providence to receive $47,114 for storefront improvements on Broad Street, including removal and replacement of existing awnings, lighting, doors, windows, and entrance signage.
Warren to receive $59,500 to assist in the goal of establishing an arts and cultural trail that will lead residents and visitors from the East Bay Bike Path to Main, Market, and Water Streets. Improvements to this area will include bike path information, edifying signposts, and hardscape improvements such as bike racks, benches, and bollards.
Westerly to receive $233,000 to upgrade the building façade for the Ocean Community United Theatre, including its integral marquee. This will help the larger goal of creating a regional center for the arts and arts education, showcasing performing, visual and creative arts.
Woonsocket to receive $80,000 to create waterfront access in the Market Square area in an effort to expand open space directly on the river that will allow for installation of a boat dock. This dock would provide a landing site for the river cruise tour boat Explorer, a 40-passenger tour boat that provides regular and chartered educational tours of the Blackstone River every summer.
"Rhode Island's 'Main Streets' are vitally important corridors of commerce for our state's cities and towns," said Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor. "These projects were identified by municipalities as priorities for revitalization, and we are pleased to support them via these investments."
The projects will go before the Commerce Corporation Board of Directors for a final vote at their next meeting. The Main Street Improvement Fund is one of several Rhode Island Commerce Corporation designed to help the state's small businesses, including the Small Business Assistance Program, the Innovation Voucher Program, and a small business hotline, accessible by dialing (401) 521-HELP.