Main Street Helena has a new director.
Aston-Brooke Corder was chosen to head the organization and has been on the job since Dec. 6 2013. Corder noted that one of the main projects she has been working on is the launching of the new Main Street Helena website www.mainstreethelena.org. She stated that the website will include the Main Street four-point approach, which includes the design, organization, promotion, and economic development and revitalization. The website will also feature various Main Street Helena committees and membership, and it will feature all the services and attractions downtown.
The function of Main Street Helena, Corder noted, is to "Make sure businesses and organizations are promoted, to bring in new businesses, to revitalize historic downtown."
She said that one thing she would like to do is to "Bring more restaurants in and build more lofts downtown and bring in contractors that can do something. I think if we brought in more apartments downtown that would bring in more restaurants, and that in turn would bring in more retail."
Main Street offers several incentives for investing in downtown Helena. One of the programs available is the Main Street Helena's mini-grant program. This program includes the distribution of mini-grants to property and business owners in downtown, "To encourage facade improvements such as fresh paint, new awnings, and improved signage." This competitive program requires a cash match and is awarded annually.
Another program that Main Street offers is the Main Street Helena Technical Assistance Program. This program offers consulting services to all Main Street Helena members including business and property owners downtown, "Utilizing the expertise of Main Street Arkansas, services include architectural design, interior design, and small business development." This program is free.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Preservation Services and Emergency Intervention Fund is also available to downtown businesses. These funds help match grants from $500 to $5,000 for preservation planning and educational efforts. The program also provides intervention funds for preservation emergencies.
Corder noted that the Southern Bancorp Capital Partners offers a low-interest loan, established with support from the USDA and the Walton Family Foundation. Rates in this program vary from 3 percent for a 7-year loan to 4 percent for a 20-year loan.
The Federal Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit can give support to someone starting a business in downtown Helena. The IRS offers a 20 percent tax credit, "For the preservation and adaptive reuse of commercial and income-producing buildings."
The Arkansas Historic Preservation Program must certify all historic rehabilitation tax credit projects.