downtown Peru

In this file photo, cars travel through the center of Peru on North Broadway on January 5, 2016.

PERU – ReDiscover Downtown Peru has been awarded $5,000 in COVID relief funding that will help pay to renovate a building façade in the city’s center.

The funding comes from a new program called Taking Care of Main Street, which is administered by the Indiana Office and Community and Rural Affairs. The program provides operational support for Indiana Main Street organizations impacted by COVID-19.

ReDiscover President Steve Dobbs said the $5,000 will go into the nonprofit’s façade renovation program, which aims to beautify downtown buildings by initiating aesthetic improvements and historical preservation.

He said since 2015, the group has allocated around $20,000 every year to help fund four façade renovations. Building owners must match the amount of the grant for each project. In five years, the program has generated more than $1 million in new investment in the downtown, Dobbs said.

This year, façade projects included brick work on a historic church on Main Street, beautifying a restaurant on Broadway and overhauling the exterior of the Edward Jones Building on Main Street.

Now, one more building can apply for funding from the façade program thanks to the OCRA grant.

Dobbs said the extra money is especially helpful during the pandemic, which forced the nonprofit to cancel nearly all of its major events and festivals, including the Cole Pole Festival, the Peru Christkindlmarkt Festival and the monthly Second Saturday events.

“It’s nice to have the extra funding, especially considering everything that’s been going on,” he said. “It’s good to be able to continue the program and do a little extra this year since so much has been canceled.”

The Taking Care of Main Street program in total awarded $200,000 to 40 Indiana Main Street organizations.

Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch said “Main Street organizations are a lifeline for small businesses who are doing their best to survive the effects of this pandemic. This funding can help bridge the gap.”

She said the goal of the program is to support Indiana Main Street organizations that provide leadership and services to the businesses and members, with special attention given to organizations that have been significantly impacted by COVID-19.

Matt Crouch, interim executive director of OCRA, said the leadership and guidance of local downtown groups will be vital for economic recovery during the virus outbreak, and “OCRA is grateful to provide this state assistance.”

Carson Gerber can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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Carson Gerber is a reporter for the Kokomo Tribune and can be reached at 765-854-6739, or on Twitter @carsongerber1.

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