GALLIPOLIS – The soul of any small town is its downtown area. But more and more of the mom and pop stores are fading away and leaving storefronts empty and some even dilapidated.
In Gallipolis, there is a group dedicated to stop that from happening. It’s called the Downtown Revitalization Project.
The Downtown Revitalization Project was established in 2012 with the goal to “educate, renovate and innovate,” DRP Board President Jimmy Wiseman said. “We had the (Battlefield Telecommunications Systems) group coming in and we were trying to help develop the buildings downtown and bring in new businesses.”
Wiseman said when BTS venture faltered that the DRP decided in a little bit of new direction. “The goal is to bring people downtown. Bring individuals, businesses and tourists and how we can help revitalize the downtown area.”
Many cities that have undergone downtown revitalization projects have secured community development block grants or beautification grants to fund the organizations plans to spruce up their downtown area. However, that is not the case with Gallipolis.
“We are not (federally funded), we are 100 percent funded through private donations,” Wiseman said. He added that if one of the DRP’s applicants is eligible for federal or state grants, the DRP will help them down that path as best they can.
Some of the businesses that the DRP has assisted include Sweet Blessings, Artisan Market, B&E Shoe Repair and Creative Arts Lifestyle.
“The main goal is to bring people downtown, to bring more employers downtown and I like to see all these store fronts filled with whatever the business may be.” Wiseman said.
Another thing the DRP organized was the Hoop Project, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament.
“Robbie Pugh and Meagan Barnes spearheaded that,” Wiseman said. “When they first came to us with the idea, I thought it sounds great, but wondered if it would be successful?’ And they’ve just blown me away.”
Wiseman said the first year of the event was tremendous success despite having terrible weather. Last year, he said the weather was great, and the event had 75 teams from Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky.
As far as how the DRP helps businesses, Wiseman said, “It’s all different kinds of help.” With B&E Shoe Repair, with the help of a general contractor, he said board members refurbished the flooring, and painted and replaced the countertop. With the Riverby Theatre Guild, the DRP gave them a donation for matching grant they applied for from the state.
Despite the board’s desire to “spruce up” downtown, they don’t want Gallipolis to lose its deep historical heritage.
“It’s tough,” Wiseman said. “You want to keep your historical look. It’s a fine line. You want to do what you can to improve, but you don’t want to lose what you already have.”
Wiseman said the DRP does not want upset local government.
“We don’t want to offend the city or anything. We just want enhance our downtown,” he said.
Wiseman said the DRP will accept donations. If people have any questions or would like more information about the DRP, call Wiseman at (740)-446-3643 Ext.231 or e-mail him at email@example.com.
Bret Bevens can be reached at (740) 446-2342 Ext. 2103. http://www.mydailytribune.com/news/news/150951964/DRP-looking-to-help-downtown-Gallipolis-businsses