Tuesday, December 21st, 2010
By Shelley Grieshop
Celina stores net Christmas bonus
  CELINA - Nearly three dozen downtown businesses will share $340,000 to spruce up their shops, thanks to an early Christmas gift from the state.
The Ohio Department of Development (ODD) this week announced the city of Celina, on behalf of 34 retailers, was awarded a $400,000 Tier-Two grant. The businesses will use most of the money for facade and code improvements; the remaining $60,000 will pay for administrative costs, environmental studies and other expenses, officials said.
"It's obviously what we were hoping for," Celina Community Development Director Kent Bryan said this morning. "We're very fortunate because the state is cutting back. Only three communities got the $400,000 this year."
Other cities receiving the ODD downtown revitalization grants include Amherst, $11,800; Chillicothe, $400,000; Hillsboro, $150,000; and Whitehouse, $400,000.
Bryan said the city raised its chances of receiving the full $400,000 because of the indirectly-related, ongoing $3.6 million Main Street project.
The city is putting the finishing touches on the first portion of the Main Street renovation project, which includes the area from Fulton to Fayette streets. The region was isolated from traffic from August through early November to reconstruct the streets, alleys and parking areas, add new curbs and sidewalks, bury electric lines, install water lines and erect decorative street lamps and traffic lights.
Officials are awaiting the last task to be completed: installation of a traffic light.
The last half of the Main Street project is expected to begin in March, weather permitting, and include the area from Fayette to Lake Shore Drive. The work involves much of the same type of construction and additions as in phase one.
While the Main Street project progressed this fall, several downtown businesses used other grant funds with cash matches to renovate their buildings. The funding stipulated the work needed to be completed by the end of this month.
Businesses receiving the newly-awarded funds also must match each grant dollar with their own and are required to complete their projects by the end of 2012.
The $400,000 grant is a portion of more than $1.3 million awarded by the ODD to assist five Ohio communities with downtown revitalization projects.
"By improving downtowns, we are ensuring job opportunities and future economic development opportunities around the state," said ODD Director Lisa Patt-McDaniel.
Additional online stories for this date
Print edition only stories for this date
• Celina schools plan cuts
• BOE finalizes agreement with community school
• Getting tougher to slash expenses
• State unemployment ranks Mercer County third lowest
• Panther golfers Shaffer, Winings heading to UNOH
• Indians roll past Hoosier rival
• Will named state's top conservationist
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