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— Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism, announced today that communities participating in the Main Street Arkansas program, a part of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, will receive increased funding through their yearly Downtown Revitalization Grants. The total grant awards for FY2021 will be $559,000, an increase of $249,500 over FY 2020, and will be funded by the Real Estate Transfer Tax.

“Our Main Street businesses are the anchors of our communities. Main Street owners know their customers and see them every day,” said Secretary Hurst. “I’m pleased we were able to increase funding to Main Street and Downtown Networks. Through these grants and the patronage of their friends and neighbors, these businesses will continue to drive local economies and contribute to Arkansas’s bright future.”

As a benefit of participation in the Main Street Arkansas or Downtown Network programs, each community receives Downtown Revitalization Grants. The grant amounts, ranging from $3,000 to $25,000, vary based on a community’s level of participation and on the number of businesses in each commercial district.

The Main Street Arkansas communities to receive $25,000 grants are North Little Rock (Argenta), Conway, El Dorado, Eureka Springs, Ft. Smith, Jonesboro, Paragould and Searcy; $22,500 each will go to Batesville, Blytheville, Little Rock (Downtown Partnership), Osceola, Ozark, Pine Bluff, Russellville, Siloam Springs, Texarkana and West Memphis; and Dumas, Helena, Paris and Little Rock (SoMa501) will receive $20,000 each.

The following Downtown Partnership communities will receive grants of $3,000 each: Arkadelphia, Calico Rock, Camden, Clarksville, Forrest City, Hardy, Hope, Lonoke, Malvern, Mena, Monticello, Morrilton, Newport, Pocahontas, Prairie Grove, Rector, Warren and Wynne.

The need was expressed by the communities in a survey conducted by the national Main Street program, which is a network of over 1,600 commercial districts comprising approximately 300,000 small businesses. Over 200 small businesses from Arkansas Main Street and Downtown Network programs responded to the survey.

Key findings of the survey indicated that:

Millions of small businesses will be at great risk of closing permanently if the crisis continues for several months. Of the nation’s approximately 30 million small businesses, nearly 7.5 million small businesses may be at risk of closing permanently over the coming five months, and 3.5 million are at risk of closure in the next two months.

COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on small businesses’ revenue, and millions of Americans employed by our nation’s smallest businesses are at risk of unemployment as a result. Approximately 35.7 million Americans employed by small businesses appear to be at risk of unemployment.

“We conducted a follow-up survey with our Main Street Arkansas communities,” said Scott Kaufman, director of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program. “They told us that the most beneficial assistance to them would be rent relief, utility bill relief and payroll assistance. I am very pleased that we can offer this additional assistance in such trying times.”

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