City façade program to disburse $45K, drop matching funds requirement

Washington business owners can now put a happier, spiffier and more affordable face on their operations.

Washington Business District Authority has $45,000 in its facade improvement budget, thanks to a $30,000 boost from the Washington County Local Share Account. And WBDA is dropping its requirement that owners provide matching funds.

The authority will award up to $5,000 to an owner to enhance his or her business. Will Prince, in his third week as WBDA’s Main Street manager, said applications for façade funding are now being taken from business owners, who must provide a “before photo” of their business plus bids estimating the cost of the work they intend to pursue.

Prince said Wednesday morning that within hours, he would send letters to business owners and post on the web that the application process is underway. The link to the grant application and guidelines is at

WBDA, he added, is following a format assuming nine businesses will get $5,000 apiece, but more businesses may become involved. “If some bid comes in at $1,000 or $2,000,” the authority would have money left over for additional projects.

“The façade program is a great way for businesses to take a small step or a big step to revamping their storefront or their building,” Prince said. “Anything from a fresh coat of paint to a better-designed sign can really make a difference and attract more tenants and a larger customer base to downtown Washington.”

Washington Mayor Scott Putnam said money for this program was available the past two years, but the city did not get a “great response” from merchants with the matching requirement in place.

“With this new pot of money and now no matching requirement,” he said, “we hope to have an overabundance of building applications and really spruce up our business district.”

WBDA board Chairman Matt Miller added: “Developing the central business district to reflect the heritage of the area and provide a charming destination is critical for Washington to serve its role as the keystone of historic tourism in the county.”