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Anderson: More attractive buildings invite people downtown.
More than a million dollars has been invested in downtown Gothenburg.
Anne Anderson, Community Development Office drector, said 31 businesses collectively spent $764,700 of their own funds to qualify for $236,098 in matching funds to fix up their facades, buy and install energy-saving improvements or make their businesses more handicapped accessible.
“Anytime you make buildings more attractive, you’re going to invite people into the downtown,” Anderson said. “And, if it’s more inviting, more people are apt to take a look and see what the downtown has to offer.”
Gothenburg, along with Sidney, Wayne, Nebraska City and Cozad, initially received $28,200 in 2008 in a pilot program to plan how to revitalize their downtowns.
Then, with input in hand from downtown business owners on how to spend revitalization funds, the city received $250,000 in 2009.
Businesses applied for matching grant money for facade, awning improvement, historic preservation, energy efficiency or accessibility.
Before money was awarded, plans were approved by a downtown revitalization committee.
Months into the two-year program, that ended in 2011, city council members expanded the downtown area to include businesses approximately between Avenues A and J and Highway 30 and 11th Street.
Once business owners began improving their properties, she said several ended up spending more money than the match.
Others, like Bacon & Vinton, Attorneys at Law and The Movie Store, made their own facade improvements without grant money, Anderson said.
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