Damon Cline @DamonCline1
Utility’s contribution will help business and property owners improve storefront appearances.
Georgia Power on Thursday pledged to put $50,000 toward storefront improvements in downtown Augusta, more than twice the amount it has donated during the previous two years.
The company’s regional external affairs manager, Stephen King, presented the Augusta Downtown Development Authority with a symbolic check for the amount, which will be used primarily for the facade matching-grant program the utility created two years ago.
However, King told DDA board members they were free to use the funds as it sees fit for other economic development initiatives in the central business district.
“It doesn’t come with any stipulations other than for the growth and development of downtown,” he said.
The matching-grant program has offered up to $5,000 to downtown business owners who invest an equal amount in exterior improvements to their spaces.
DDA Executive Director Margaret Woodard said the program evolved out of discussions with former Georgia Power East Region Vice President Fran Forehand in 2018.
“The year before last we started this program with $15,000, which we used very quickly,” she said. “So this is huge.”
Georgia Power donated an additional $15,000 to the program in 2019. Those funds will be depleted shortly if two pending grant applications – for 204 13th St. and 1143 Laney-Walker Blvd. – are approved.
Previous facade grant recipients have included the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau’s Augusta & Co. office/storefront at 1010 Broad St.
This year’s donation is the first under new regional vice president Jason Cuevas, who was named Forehand’s replacement in July.
“Throughout the years we’ve had a great partnership with the city, with our folks who are doing the legwork to help develop this community, so we want to continue that,” King said. “It’s been in the DNA of our company that healthy communities equates to healthy business.”