Sharon Mulls Business Improvement District

The coronavirus paused efforts in Sharon, Pa., to develop a downtown vision and five-year plan. Work, however, is happening behind the scenes.

The city got a $15,000 state grant to develop a comprehensive revitalization strategy. “The goal is to establish a business improvement district and create a Main Street Community,” says Melissa Phillips, community and economic development director.

A final public meeting to establish a Business Improvement District that was to take place in March was postponed because of the pandemic. But the steering committee has continued to meet, Phillips reports.

“We want people to know it’s still being worked on but we haven’t quite figured out how to move forward with the public input portion,” she says. “I don’t think we’re going to get a appropriate feedback level online but I’m not quite ready to plan an in-person event. I’m sort of in limbo on this.”

The improvement district would assess property owners a fee that would be used to hire a downtown manager who would work with downtown business owners.

The assessment enjoyed what Phillips characterizes as “overwhelming support” among the property owners. But that was before the pandemic.

Meantime, the city is evaluating  applications made to the Small Business Assistance Grant Program launched to help businesses during the pandemic. The city will announce recipients this month. More than 30 businesses applied for the grants of up to $10,000.

Nearly $200,000 is available to be distributed from the city’s share of federal Community Development Block Grant funds, Phillips says. The funds can be used to help businesses with coronavirus-related expenses, including paying rent and buying personal protective equipment.