The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

May 30, 2014

State budget cuts will pinch

Downtown groups may lose money

BY SHANNON BEAMON Staff Writer
CNHI

Thursday, May 29, 2014 — Two state funding programs that currently play a role in the revitalization of downtown Albemarle could be cut from this year’s state budget.

The N.C. Downtown Development Association and the N.C. Department of Commerce have issued statements in support of the Main Street Solutions Fund and the Historic Tax Credit Program.

“If it comes down in a statement from (them)... then it’s probably slated to be cut,” Shannon Johnson, director of the Albemarle Downtown Development Corporation, said.

The Main Street Solutions Fund has pumped more than $2.6 million into main street communities since 2009, resulting in a $9 million investment in downtown revitalization projects from the private sector. Downtown communities that received funding typically doubled their  number of business and tripled their number of jobs within two years.

The Historic Tax Credit program is a similar initiative that provides incentives for developers to revitalize the historical buildings typically found in downtown areas.

“This has significance for main street programs across the state, but particularly in Albemarle,” Johnson said.

Projects slated in the city’s downtown master plan would rely heavily on these two funds, Johnson said.

In the city’s downtown master plan, one of the keys to developing the downtown economy is establishing residential living above downtown shops.

“Without these [incentives] I can guarantee you that it’s much easier to go build brand new anywhere else than it is to revitalize a building in the downtown,” Johnson said.

“These funds are critical to the types of projects the city of Albemarle is looking to undertake in the next few years.”

The governor put a $500,000 award to the Main Street Solutions fund in his proposed budget. Though the Historic Tax Credit Program is set to sunset this year, he has proposed an alternative program to replace it.

But with the state facing a $445 million shortfall this year due to the new tax program, many funds are under careful scrutiny.

The Albemarle City Council voiced its support for the  Main Street Solutions Fund and the replacement of the Historic Tax Credit Program in a letter to the city’s state representatives.

The N.C. General Assembly reconvened last week for the legislative short session.



To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanlynewspress.com.