Sharon Awards $775K in ARPA Funds to Assist Businesses

SHARON, Pa. – Revitalization and development initiatives are among the projects being supported by $775,726 in American Rescue Plan Act funds that City Council allocated at Wednesday’s meeting.

A riverfront entertainment complex, business expansion and attraction projects and façade improvements are a few of the initiatives.

The grants represent the third round of ARPA funding the city has allocated for businesses. Previously, the city awarded grants totaling more than $2.1 million for city revitalization projects.

“With this round, we are looking to make a direct impact on the downtown and connect with plans for a strategic downtown center corridor,” Bob Fiscus, city manager, said in the news release announcing the grants. “With the awarding of the ARPA funding, we hope to make lasting changes for the city of Sharon.”

Just over a quarter of the funds awarded Wednesday will go to Quaker Steak & Lube, 101 Chestnut Ave., to create a riverfront entertainment complex at the former Tully’s Pub & Grille, and for updates to the Sugar Shack satellite bar.

The $207,500 will help fund the creation of a permanent event platform, including meeting space, over the former Tully’s site not only for Quaker Steak but also for the city and community, according to the release. The new event venue has the potential of adding up to 40 new jobs.

“As a centerpiece and gateway location to the City of Sharon, QSL intends to rebuild, replace, and enhance its landmark premises to provide multipurpose venue spaces that will benefit not only it’s business but the entire city,” Russell Berner, vice president of restaurant operations at JDK Management, which owns Quaker Steak.

“Being a prominent, legacy business with strong roots directly established in Sharon and operating for almost 50 years, we believe we will continue to contribute immeasurably,” he added.

A $100,000 grant to Julian’s Bar & Grille in Meadville will support plans to open a second location at 234 State St., in the space previously occupied by Lulu Beans Café & Coffee House, 234 E. State St.

Julian’s will offer a gourmet burger menu with keto, paleo, vegetarian and vegan options, owner D.J. York said.

“Julian’s has been looking to expand and when approached by the city with their plans to revitalize and rebuild the area, we knew this was right up our alley,” York said.

He also praised building owner Jim Landino and Lulu Beans operator Jen Krezeczowski for “sharing their vision with us. All I can say is how lucky we are to have these two, who are committed to the growth and redevelopment of the area, to be in our corner.”

Four businesses were awarded façade grants using the ARPA funds. Gilbert’s Risk Solutions, 30 E. State St., and The Winner Inc., 32 W. State St., each received $100,000 grants, Thyme in Your Kitchen, 79 E. State St., got $87,500 for façade and heating/ventilation/air conditioning upgrades, and Lisac Properties, 200 W. Silver St. and 142-156 E. State St., got $24,226 for façade improvement and to expand.

Gilbert’s project will upgrade a historic building that is a distinctive part of the downtown Sharon skyline, including repairs to the riverside of the building such as brick replacement, mortar joint repointing and brick waterproofing, as well as restoring the eagle at the top of the building to its original look.

“This project allows us to reopen our walkway with the potential of connecting to other walkways along the riverfront,” Eric Brown, chief financial officer, said. “We are excited as this project will preserve 50+ jobs in Sharon by extending the life of the building.”

The Winner will use the funds to improve its retail storefront, also a distinctive part of the downtown Sharon skyline.

“As a highly visible retail establishment in downtown Sharon, these improvements will enhance the retailer’s ability to attract new customers,” as well as to attract new employees, Charles Miller, chief financial officer, said.

The grant given to Thyme in Your Kitchen will allow the culinary business to restore the front of the building to its “original grandeur” and extend the life of the historic structure, according to Patricia Evans, who co-owns the business with her husband, John. Funds also be used to upgrading the HVAC system to current industry standards and optimize air quality.

“Since 2014, over 13,000 guests have visited our business to enjoy our cooking classes and shop,” Evans said. “This assistance will support continued growth of our business, businesses in our building and further attract foot traffic and shopping to downtown Sharon.”

Funds provided to Lisac Properties will support improvements to the second floor of 142-156 E. State St., to add two additional apartments to the downtown, plus updated signage, and façade improvements to Warehouse Sales on Silver Street.

“The renovations to the East State Street building will help create comfortable living spaces in downtown Sharon,” owner Mike Lisac said. His goal is “continuing to improve our buildings to improve the look of downtown Sharon,” he added.

The remaining $156,500 will go to support new businesses and business expansions, including Webb Winery, Hermitage, opening a second location at 514 N. Sharpsville Ave., the former Billy’s Black & Gold Bar, which will offer a larger location for wine production and storage as well as a wine testing lab and office area.

Plans for the property also include creation of a second tasting room and retail space, plus a large event area overlooking the tank room, with the opportunity for tours of the production and wine processing facilities.

“We’re thrilled with this opportunity and are so excited to be partnering with JCL Development and the city of Sharon to bring an additional Webb Winery location to Sharon,” Carlee Webb, co-owner of Webb Winery with her husband, Kevin, said. The production facility should be fully operational by summer 2023, with the retail, tasting and event space to follow.

Laurel Technical Institute, 200 Sterling Ave., received $45,000 it will use to help create a co-operative kitchen incubator at its Sharon campus. The project includes a rentable commercial kitchen, walk-in coolers, and restaurant space for both the culinary school and the public. The institute also will expand upon its culinary program as well as support the community’s food service industry and entrepreneurs in the culinary space.

“This program seeks to harness the tremendous expertise of local farms, markets and food producers to grow downtown Sharon as a culinary destination,” Doug Decker, LTI Vice president, said. The school also sees it as a “major catalyst to making the city of Sharon’s downtown business district a culinary and an entertainment hub and destination.”

The Wandering Soul: Books, Gifts & Furniture, 142 E. State St., was awarded $20,000 to support the new business, a book, gift and furniture store which will be a community-connector business for downtown events and more, according to the city. Plans include book clubs, art classes and a wide variety of workshops as well as author events.

“The shop will provide a unique environment where you can find your next favorite book, or furniture for your home,” owner Dani Johnson said. “Evenings of entertainment, theme nights and collaborative events with other local businesses are just some of the exciting things planned for the shop.”

Another new business receiving funds — $12,500 – is Stylishly You Salon & Boutique, 19 N. Water Ave. Funds to help start-up the salon and boutique will be used to support area designers and entrepreneurs with their apparel and accessories created locally and regionally, along with providing barbering, cosmetology and aesthetic services.

“Having a business in the community that I grew up in and that helped shape me is truly an honor,” owner/operator LaShana Barnett said. “I am investing into the community that invested in me.”

Evolve, 98 E. State St., received $9,000 it will use to finish projects and add equipment to “expand facility offerings” including the completion of a training turf area and addition of kettlebell equipment, plus to help support the hiring of additional staff, according to said Breanna Griffin, who so-owns the studio with partner Brittany Muszik.

These updates will enable Evolve” to offer a functional training experience like no other facility found outside of Pittsburgh,” Griffin said.

“The support from our community has been so wonderful since opening downtown,” and the funds will help “continue the growth of this wellness community,” Muszik said.

“We have been determined to provide a state-of-the-art community wellness experience to our hometown,” Griffin added. “Looking at what that vision has transformed into is quite humbling.”

Molly Bundrant, president of Sharon City Council, expressed her excitement about the announced revitalization projects happening in the city.

“The impact of these projects will be felt throughout our entire community and will help push forward revitalization,” she said. “We’re just so grateful we received these funds to help Sharon grow. Projects like these will help improve our city.”

Copyright 2022 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.