Investment fund could be great tool

Published 12:04 pm Friday, December 8, 2017

Everyone talks about the need to invest in Winchester’s downtown, but two organizations are literally doing it by providing a pool of money to encourage economic growth in the heart of the city.

Main Street Winchester and the Winchester-Clark County Industrial Development Authority have each pledged $50,000 to start a downtown investment fund. These dollars will be used as matching funds that would be made available to property and business owners to help finance capital projects like installing a new roof or other repairs needed to bring a building up to code.

Creating the development investment fund is one of the key action items in the Downtown Master Plan that was completed earlier this year.

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Based on significant research and results elsewhere, being able to offer some financial assistance to those interested in making a significant investment in the downtown can often be the final piece of the puzzle for some developers. Economic development officials believe this will spark other organizations or individuals with a vested interest in downtown to donate to this pool of money.

The key component — and the number-one factor in whether or not this initiative will be viewed as a success — will be how the funds are awarded.

The program will be modeled on those from other cities. Economic development officials here say there will be financial caps for projects and a very clear application and review process. We truly hope so.

We hope to see all the funds go toward very specific physical improvements to the infrastructure and the buildings so that it creates a lasting impact. We also hope those who administer the program create a very clear list of criteria that must be met, including job creation, personal financial investment, vetting steps and more.

If all goes well, this initiative could pave the way for grant funding and additional investment by those who care about Winchester’s future.

That is something in which we should all be invested.