A former barber shop is among the four vacant buildings on Young Avenue Nettleton city leaders would like to purchase and renovate as part of a downtown revitalization project. The board of aldermen approved to apply for a grant last week for the potential project.

NETTLETON – Nettleton leaders are working towards a plan to bring new life to Young Avenue, which acts as the town’s Main Street, by capitalizing on economic development. During its July 1 meeting, the board of aldermen approved resolutions to apply for a small municipalities grant hosted by the Mississippi Development Authority and matching funds if awarded.

The Mississippi Legislature allocates funds for the grant to provide for economic development in small rural areas across the state to help them achieve the next step in their goals.

“We have a lot of vacant buildings and have contacted their owners, and they’re willing to sell. Mississippi Main Street is involved in helping. We think the total budget could go down,” said Nettleton City Clerk Dana Burcham of the project.

Young Avenue has eight businesses currently in operation, flanked by the Dorothy J. Lowe Library and the Mississippi Northern District Public Service Commissioner’s office. There are four vacant buildings alongside the street targeted through the revitalization project.

As it stands now, the scope of the project is $266,000, which includes $114,000 to purchase the empty buildings, $100,000 to renovate them, $20,000 for a renovation contingency and $32,000 for a Mississippi Main Street vision plan.

“The grant is for economic development. If we can get the buildings rented and occupied, it would get more business to the main part of town,” Burcham said. “The three top priorities through the grant are economic development, which is the top priority; community improvements; and public improvements.”

According to Jenny Savely, project manager of Three Rivers Planning and Development District’s community and economic development division, the small municipalities grant requires only a 10 percent match. The grant is worth $150,000.

“Several downtown business owners have written letters saying the aesthetics of downtown are hindering growth,” said Savely, who is administrating the grant application for Nettleton. “People don’t want to go into a building they’d have to renovate.”

Burcham said Nettleton applied for the same grant before for street paving.

The deadline to apply for the grant is at the end of August, and Burcham is unsure when winning applicants will be announced.

She said Nettleton needs the support of Mississippi legislators for the project. In addition to the business owners’ letters of support, citizens have done the same.

A mural project on the side of the Holland Building, which houses the library, will add a visual impact soon to the Young Avenue area. Moving the library into the bigger building was one of the current city administration’s goals to improve the town.

The board of aldermen has also approved lighting improvements to the Young Avenue area.

Mayor Mem Riley and the board have also made a push for continued growth alongside the Highway 45 bypass during the current administration, and Nettleton Hardware, DingerNation, BAM! Market, Hawkins Tire Center and a future medical complex are success stories to that goal.

In other business of last week’s meeting, aldermen approved to condemn a home alongside a residential area of Young Avenue. In a related matter, the board accepted Nathan Sizemore’s low bid of $2,400 to demolish a home alongside Monroe Street.

A July 18 date was set for the board to have a work session regarding a new property maintenance code.

Aldermen approved new building permit fees, which include different pay scales across the board, effective July 8.

The board also approved 10-year tax exemptions for Homestretch Furniture, United Furniture Industries and Magnum Metals. It was tabled during the June meeting due to the city awaiting confirmation the Monroe County Board of Supervisors approved the exemptions.

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