Erie Downtown Partnership invests in local businesses to improve the look of the district

Local News

Some downtown Erie buildings will be looking a bit cleaner and more updated in the coming weeks. 

Since the start of the program, nearly half a million dollars has gone into improving the look of downtown buildings. Over the years, buildings in downtown Erie have slowly been getting facelifts. 

The Erie Downtown Partnership’s Facade Improvement Grants have helped nearly four dozen businesses up their curb appeal.  This year, nearly $43,000 is going to five locally-owned shops.  They include Room 33 Speakeasy, Ye Ole Sweet Shoppe, Glass Growers Gallery, Executive Pulse, and Palace Hardware.  

John Buchna, CEO of Erie Downtown Partnership, says, “You have large-scale investment with our big employers. Now, this brings it down to the reality that our community is made up of a lot of small and medium-sized businesses.”

What’s unique is that each of these businesses must match 50% of the grant they receive, therefore contributing to their own improvements.   

Buchna continues, “There is that opportunity to invest in the community because they’re getting that return, but they’re getting that return because it does make their businesses better, it preserves the buildings.”

The Room 33 Speakeasy opened shop the beginning of this year.  Their $5,000 grant will go towards power-washing, fire escape painting, masonry work, and a new awning.  

Rebecca Styn, Proprietor of Room 33, says, “Overall, I think the facade improvements help create better curb appeal for anyone that’s down here and we have a lot of tourists come in throughout the summer seasons especially”.

The owners of Room 33 say that without this grant, their facade improvements may have been pushed back to a later time.  The Downtown Partnership is hoping these grants will encourage local entrepreneurs to set up shop in town. 

Styn says, “If you know where to go and the people to talk to, there’s a lot of help around here from the SPDC, different organizations, different folks that want to help you and see you launch your product or your business.”

The majority of the grant money comes from ECGRA.  The facade grants are awarded annually, and businesses located within the partnership’s 70-block district are eligible to apply.

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