Facade grant program in full swing in Jackson County

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - A new program by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce will help spruce up the business climate across the county, from Moss Point to Ocean Springs.

Facade grants were handed out last week, modeled on successful programs that have taken place in Gulfport and Biloxi. The grants will mean a new look for several businesses, with a goal of improving the bottom line.

The phone stays busy at Dixie Glass in Pascagoula.  It's also busy in the back room. Soon the front of the business will be sporting a new look.

"We're updating our awnings, our awnings are getting replaced. We have some signage that we've already replaced with lighting and we're actually updating our main sign above us," owner Sean Westmoreland explained.

Fifty-thousand dollars has been divided equally between several businesses to do the same. One of them is Gulf Coast Heritage Realty, where Phil Torjusen is a Realtor.

"It gives us the opportunity to spruce up the outer facility a little bit. We were able to come in and pressure wash the entire facility, we were able to paint it, do a little bit of landscaping and we're also ordering some new signage for our facility," Torjusen said.

The program is sponsored by the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce, with one goal in mind.

"Long term vision is, of course, beautification of Jackson County," Chamber President Carla Todd said. "In addition too, we're hoping that some of the people who are neighboring some of the businesses that received it, will be willing to follow suit and try and do the same," Todd said.

While most of the businesses have already started the improvements with the $2500 grant they each received, the owners say they're looking at the big picture, they're looking at the future.

A more attractive business will be more attractive to customers, according to Westmoreland.

"Appearance is the main thing. When a customer comes up, the first time appearance when they walk up, they get a good impression and they think highly of the business."

Jen Dearman, the community development director in Pascagoula, agrees.

"Somebody off the streets is more likely to walk through your door if it looks prettier and more aesthetically pleasing, but it's also going to give the businesses a sense of pride, a confidence in their product and in their service," Dearman said.

A total of 20 businesses across Jackson County received the grants. The $50,000 provided for the program was donated by Chevron.

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