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|City, SEDD commit money to aid south Monroe|
The city of Monroe and the Southside Economic Development District have each committed $25,000 to help revitalize south Monroe.
Mayor Jamie Mayo said the $50,000 would be used to create "what I call a main street program, primarily at Winnsboro Road and South 2nd Street."
The state Department of Transportation and Development recently paved both streets at the request of the city, Mayo said.
Now the city and SEDD want to partner with businesses along these streets to make the area more attractive for future growth.
"We want to see some enhancements and upgrades of the businesses along South 2nd Street and Winnsboro Road, which are the primary streets in south Monroe," Mayo said. "So, by creating what I call an unofficial main street, we'll work in partnership with SEDD and businesses to get them to improve their businesses so storefronts will look much better."
"Ultimately we want to attract other businesses and show pride in those areas that need improvement," Mayo continued. "It's not all of the businesses because there are some who have made enhancements and upgrades. We appreciate that, but we want to make sure we have a uniform effort with all of the businesses."
Mayo said the project also would give the city an opportunity to enhance right-of-way property, too.
"It's a combination of upgrading their own personal property the businesses own and the right-of-ways," Mayo said.
The cities of Monroe and West Monroe recently applied to have their downtown areas included in the state's Main Street Program. Both applications were declined this year.
Main Street status allows cities to apply for grants and funding for various projects such as beautification efforts. One of the goals of the Main Street program is to spur more economic development in communities.
Mayo said the city and SEDD will create an agreement with the businesses to allow everyone to participate in the program.
"For example, let's say it takes $1,000 to do some upgrades," Mayo explained. "Well, it would be a situation where that could be spent by three parties, so the city is participating, SEDD is participating as well as the business owners. So everybody is paying to play, so to speak."
Like the Main Street program, Mayo said the southside project not only focuses on beautifying the area but encourages more economic development in south Monroe.
"Once that has been improved, we feel it will be more attractive for other businesses wanting to locate in south Monroe," he said. That's the whole purpose."
"The bottom line is to create an environment that is conducive to growth and development," Mayo continued. "We want the entire city to look that way regardless of where businesses are located. That's part of my vision to make Monroe whole."
The city's recently completed comprehensive plan also outlines efforts to improve south Monroe and make it more attractive to potential growth and development.
The city wants to make south Monroe "a gateway artery from the zoo to downtown," according to the comprehensive plan.
New York's Peter J. Smith and Co. assisted the city with its comprehensive plan, which was approved by the city council in January.
Smith's firm said there are "plenty of opportunities to strengthen south Monroe through urban design."
"This project is critical for the future growth and development of the city," Mayo said. "We have quite a bit of activity going on in the city of Monroe … probably more than most cities, particularly during these economic times.
"I think that is attributed to the teamwork going on throughout our city. We are looking to keep that going."