Decker Boulevard businesses getting help with new grant

Like most areas, businesses along the Decker Boulevard corridor is facing tough economic times.

But thanks to a grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, owners can make major renovations by completing a simple application.

Richland County Councilman Jim Manning said the Facade Improvement Grant totals $176,000. Each business that is approved gets $10,000 for improvement projects. 18 applicants; including the Bi-Lo grocery store, applied earlier this year.

Store manager Frank Ianacone said his store got a paint job and new signs.

"They take ownership of this road and they want to see it improved. And they are happy with the improvements."

The grant is pilot program in Richland County. Business owners like Dino's Manager Ryan Long say they have already noticed a difference in foot traffic.

"It almost looked like we were closed at one point. It was a priority on my part to get that fixed. Once we got the new signs in, we immediately started gaining new business at night after the lights were on. It just seems more secure."

Officials say the program has been such a success, that another round of funding will soon be available for business owners that have not applied yet, like liquor store owner Raj Patel.

"The first thing I thought was 'Why is somebody just going to give us money?' I never believed that program. But we are going to apply for that and be a part of the program."

The facade grant also added 26 new street lights; as well as 30 new banners and three gateway signs into the corridor. Manning said it is another example of the work being put into the corridor.

"Decker did not get in the shape it was overnight. And it will take a little time for it to come back. But we continue each month with something new and different."

County officials hope to eventually spread the grant to other Richland County areas in need.

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