$82,117 in WNC Community Enhancement Grants Awarded

Site of future mural in the Town of Murphy,photo courtesy of the Town of Murphy.

(March 2024) CFWNC awarded nine WNC Community Enhancement grants totaling $82,117 to support charitable organizations and eligible public agencies engaged in projects in downtowns or commercial corridors that enhance appearance, infrastructure, or the pedestrian experience.

The grants are:

$10,000 to Boys & Girls Club of the Plateau (BGCP) for a beautification project along public sidewalks beside the organization’s building in Cashiers. BGCP is part of a community corridor that includes the Cashiers Fire Department, Fishes and Loaves food bank, Cashiers/Glenville Recreation Center, The Village Green, Albert Carlton Library, outdoor ball fields, a playground, and a community dog park. Grant funds will support the purchase of (and thereby make permanent) an existing temporary art installation. The purchase is part of a larger effort to beautify landscaped areas adjacent to Frank Allen Road, including the establishment of a pollinator garden and the placement of a flagpole and American Flag.

$10,000 to City of Marion to revitalize Main Street in its Historic Downtown district to bolster pedestrian safety and usability. The funds will purchase planters to line Main Street between the road and pedestrian sidewalk, creating a barrier to enhance pedestrian safety while contributing to a visually pleasing streetscape. By creating an inviting environment, the project hopes to attract more visitors to the area and thereby to generate economic benefits for the City.

$10,000 to Grow With Drexel to beautify the Downtown Business Area by adding more seating in the downtown park, purchasing awnings and signage for Drexel's business district, planting flowers around the arbor and columns in the park, adding seasonal banners, and pressure washing a wall to prepare for a downtown mural.

$10,000 to Rutherford County Visual Artists Guild (the Guild) to assist in creating an original painted mural that will be installed on the exterior wall of the Guild’s building in downtown Rutherfordton. The project will enhance the aesthetic appeal of the building, illustrate and echo the cultural vibrancy of the Rutherfordton community, and serve as a powerful visual to help the Guild in accomplishing its goals of fostering creativity and community engagement.

$10,000 to Safelight to beautify the area surrounding two buildings it owns on Church Street in downtown Hendersonville. The project will improve both the physical appearance and pedestrian experience for one of the busiest streets in the downtown area. It will include caulking tiles on Safelight's building, seasonal plantings in the spring and fall, fresh window painting, cleaning, and the addition of comfortable, safe bistro seating outside Safelight's Dandelion Café.

$2,117 to Town of Andrews to upgrade two electrical poles to the required 30 and 50 amp service so that the food trucks supporting town events do not need generators, which produce noise levels that diminish attendees' enjoyment of the events. Town festivals are important to the Andrews economy, and the Town wants to make it convenient for food trucks to plug into its power supply.

$10,000 to Town of Maggie Valley to purchase an addition to the Maggie Pavilion, which is located next to Town Hall. The new open structure will be placed adjacent to the present building to provide open air seating for Pavilion events. Funds from the Town will be used to purchase new commercial grade picnic tables to be used below and beside the new structure. The Maggie Pavilion is used throughout the year for individual events, band concerts, and group meetings.

$10,000 to Town of Murphy to complete a 15 by 40-foot mural on the side wall of the building located at 13 Tennessee Street in Downtown Murphy, facing the public property that comprises the Town Square. This public space is set to be reconstructed in 2024 using a Rural Transformation Grant that the Town received from the North Carolina Department of Commerce. The mural will enhance the aesthetic appeal and increase the economic activity of local businesses by attracting more visitors to Downtown Murphy. The mural will celebrate local history and culture, portraying residents who have played pivotal roles in shaping the community. The initiative seeks to foster a sense of pride, identity, and community engagement while showcasing the rich heritage of Murphy.

$10,000 to Western Carolina Pacesetters (WCP) to enhance the appearance and efficiency of two store fronts in the building that the organization recently acquired in Downtown Murphy. WCP purchased the building as a strategic investment to generate a sustainable source of funding for WCP's life-skill, interpersonal development, and community outreach programs that serve the five most western counties of North Carolina. By addressing the unsightly and dated appearance of small cracks and fogging of the storefront windows, the project will enhance the visual appeal of the downtown area, while at the same time improving the energy efficiency of WCP’s new building.

"The Town of Murphy an NC Rural Transformation Grant to recreate the four pocket parks into a viable downtown square," said Laura Lachance, Downtown Director. "The improvements we will make with this funding and the WNC Community Enhancement grant will make downtown Murphy more inviting and pedestrian-friendly for residents and visitors.”

CFWNC and Dogwood Health Trust partnered to make WNC Community Enhancement grants available. CFWNC is administering the program; Dogwood Health Trust provided the funding for the one-year pilot. The grants are another way to support rural economic development and can help build, rebuild or refresh community spaces that foster connections and economic development. Grants are reviewed and announced quarterly.

To apply, organizations must be tax-exempt and located in the Qualla Boundary or one of the following counties in Western North Carolina: Avery, Buncombe, Burke, Cherokee, Clay, Graham, Haywood, Henderson, Jackson, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Mitchell, Polk, Rutherford, Swain, Transylvania or Yancey. Priority will be given to projects located in rural or other under-resourced areas. The next deadline is June 10.