DDRA awards two sign grants, announces additional funds for program

DDRA Board member Curtis Boyd, RV/Boat manager Kenneth Smith, RV/Boat owner Bill Bryant, DDRA executive director Lisa Chalian Rock, Tommy Hewitt of Palmetto Office Furniture. Photo by Samantha Lyes

Christmas came to downtown this week as the Darlington Downtown Revitalization Association (DDRA) awarded two grants through its Improvement Incentive Program in December, and the Board of Directors approved additional funds for the program for 2018.

“We are excited to see more businesses getting involved in improving their properties,” said Lisa Chalian-Rock, executive director of the DDRA. “The concept of the grant program was to encourage all our businesses, new and existing, to update their signage and facades and make Darlington a more welcoming and attractive place for residents, customers, and businesses alike.”

Lura Marsh, of Palmetto Express Tax, with DDRA executive director Lisa Chalian-Rock. Photo by Melissa Rollins

The first grant went to Lura Marsh and Palmetto Express Tax on South Main Street. The business has upgraded the exterior of the Darlington office with fresh paint and new signage, and she has plans for more landscaping to increase the welcoming atmosphere.

The other grant went to Bill Bryant and RV Boat LLC, also on South Main Street, to add signage announcing the business. The newly opened business repurposes the warehouse for RV, boat, and other storage needs. Mr. Bryant made those dollars flow through the community even more by purchasing his signs from another recently opened downtown business, Out of This World Screen Printing.

The DDRA Board of Directors approved its 2018 Budget on December 5 and approved another $5,000 to be used for improvement grants in the coming year.

“We want this momentum to continue and see more businesses open and more succeed,” Rock said. “This grant gives owners a little more incentive to stay in Darlington or to locate in Darlington.”

Since the program’s inception, the DDRA has awarded $3,500 in grants for improvements, meaning more than $7,000 worth of upgrades have been made by local businesses due to our efforts.

To apply, download the application from www.buildupdarlington.org or www.darlingtonSConline.com or get a copy from the DDRA Office or Codes Enforcement Office at City Hall, 400 Pearl St.

Through the DDRA Improvement Incentive Program, the DDRA provides up to 50 percent of the cost of removing or installing an approved sign up to a maximum of $1,000 or up to 50 percent of the cost of exterior painting up to a maximum of $1,000.
The Board of Directors has $5,000 available for the program in 2018. Applications should be submitted by the 24th day of the month for consideration.

What is encouraged:

· Replacement of wall-mounted signage with projecting signage.

· Replacement of several advertising signs at one location with a single advertising sign.

· Signs designed by a sign professional.

· Replacement of worn, weathered, discolored, or out-dated signs and awnings.

· Repainting of exterior buildings which show paint chipping.

· Replacement or installation of awnings.

What will not be funded:

· Purchase of portable or temporary signs.

· Signs that do not conform to the City’s sign regulations and which have not been approved.

· Signs and painting for businesses without current City of Darlington business licenses.

· Interior painting.

· Interior signage.

The Board will review applications on a monthly basis at its regular meetings until funds allocated for the program are exhausted. Preference will be given to DDRA members and to local, non-chain businesses.

Author: Duane Childers

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