Grant program targets downtown

Tony Parra: PNT Staff Writer

Portales’ downtown district is getting a facelift, one building at a time, thanks to a new grant program targeting small downtown businesses.

The Portales MainStreet Organization members with the help of Portales city officials have awarded three grants totaling $5,000 for facade improvements to downtown businesses.

Debi Lee, city manager, said a reason for the success of the fund is because the Portales MainStreet Organization is made up of downtown business owners who have a personal investment in upgrades to the appearance of the downtown area.

Three grants were awarded in November.

Donita Massey-Privett, owner of Times Remembered Photography studio, has also received a $2,000 grant to improve the facade to her building. Massey-Privett, who is also a Portales MainStreet Organization member, said she would like work on her facade to begin this week and is hopeful for completion in four months.

“I’m excited to have received the grant and I’m also excited to see other people receiving grants,” Massey-Privett said. “Every improvement we make helps out the other businesses. Any time we can make it (downtown) look better it helps us get more business.”

Massey-Privett has owned her photography studio for six years. She said longtime downtown business owner Danny Woodward has been a big benefit to the mainstreet organization because he understands what small business owners need. Woodward is the Portales MainStreet Organization president.

Jeremy Sturm, Portales MainStreet manager and Portales economic development director, said any business within downtown boundaries qualifies for the fund. The boundary from east to west is Abilene Avenue to Avenue C and from Commercial Avenue south to Third Street.

The NoWhereElse unique gifts store owners received funding from the program for their facade. Tressie Stroud and Donna Hayman opened the business up in November and in December they had received a check for $2,000 from the fund to remodel the front of the building. Stroud said she applied for the grant in October.

Stroud said she had already spent money on the facade and construction of it before receiving the $2,000 from the fund.

“The $2,000 really helped us out a lot,” Stroud said. “Everything you do to improve your business is expensive to do.”

Stroud said she heard about the Portales MainStreet facade improvement fund through Sturm.

Nancy Tivis, owner of the Fashion Girl received a $1,000 grant to improve the facade to her clothing store. Debi Lee, city manager, said the grants are 50 percent matching grants, which meant the business owners had to spend at least the amount they were applying for.

Lee said the City of Portales contracted the Portales MainStreet Organization members to handle the selling of a building to Eric Dixon for his attorney offices. Money from the sale was placed into the facade improvement fund. Sturm said there is no money left in the fund, but that there will be fundraisers to try to raise money for the fund.