Matt Dudek is a graduate student in the UNC Department of City and Regional Planning, the School of Government, and a CERC intern working with the Cape Fear Council of Governments.
[Due to the potentially delicate nature of negotiations and unannounced plans, this blog post will talk about a situation in a town while maintaining the anonymity of the participants.]
Public private partnerships are an important tool for economic development, and the Rural Center’s grant for Building Reuse and Restoration (http://www.ncruralcenter.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=122&Itemid=170) is a great tool for municipalities to help private owners bring new jobs and businesses to vacant properties. The grant makes $8,000 available for every job created, up to $480,000 for sixty new jobs. This grant has the added benefit of not requiring any matching funds beyond the businesses investment in the building and business.
Unfortunately, in spite of grants like this being available the current economic downturn is drying up capital and further hurting the ability of investors to start new businesses and take new risks. One of the towns I am working in has been working with a property owner to rehab an important building on the main street just a block away from the town hall. The town and owner have gone so far as to create architectural renderings and made plans for a restaurant and a corner market to be put in the building.
Hopefully as the recession continues to lift, and as confidence returns to the markets, then capital will become more available and there will be a stream of new projects being finished that are currently on hold. I’m sure stories like this are true all across North Carolina and the country.