Monday, February 27, 2012

Historic Preservation: Awards

The City of Washington, in recognition of Historic Preservation Month, is seeking nominations from the public for the Rena K. Terrell Award. The award is a public-trust honor designed to celebrate those active in historic preservation. Terrell, the award’s namesake, was one of the area’s most-active historic preservation promoters. She was a founding member of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, a member of the Historic Preservation Foundation of North Carolina, the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the city’s official representative on the Board of Directors of the Historic Albemarle Tour.

The city commission’s members believe it is most appropriate that these awards are made in Terrell’s memory since she was devoted to preserving the area’s historic resources and assets. Awards will be presented to one commercial property, one residential property and one “Good Neighbor” project in the historic district. Suggested criteria for nominating a property include the rehabilitation or restoration of the property, the ongoing maintenance efforts on the property and the compatibility of a new construction addition to the property.

An award also will be presented to a nominee chosen as a “Good Neighbor.” The criteria for this award include neighborhood-compatible restoration or construction and maintenance efforts completed with sensitivity to the other residents within the immediate area.
The nominees’ projects should be substantially completed in order to be considered.

Historic Preservation Month is an opportunity for local communities across the nation to recognize and celebrate the importance of their historic districts to the local economy through tourism and real-estate transfers, as well as the contribution historic districts make to the quality of life in a town.

Nominations are open until April 16, and they may be sent to the City of Washington’s Planning and Development Department (to the attention of Jessica Selby by email to jselby@washingtonnc.gov or calling 252-975-9838).
A recipient will be announced each week in May, with the final week featuring a candlelight walking tour in the historic district beginning at 7 p.m. May 3. Details will be announced in May. The tour and presentation of the Rena K. Terrell Awards are unique ways the city is helping Beaufort County celebrate its 300th anniversary.

Update: ARRA lighting retrofit project

A simple project designed and implemented by the City of Washington, in conjunction with the Energy Division of North Carolina Department of Commerce, has resulted in dramatic energy savings and will assist with job creation at a city-owned manufacturing facility occupied by Impressions Marketing Group, LLC.

In 2009, Impressions Marketing Group, which has leased the city-owned facility since 2001, entered into lease renewal negotiations with the city. As part of the negotiations, company executives encouraged the city to improve the building, which once housed a Hamilton Beach plant.

In 2010, after several months of negotiations, and with the help of a $259,979 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s Energy Efficiency in Government Buildings program, the group executed a five-year lease with an option for renewal. Mayor Archie Jennings said, “The grant award simultaneously targets the relationship between economic development and environmental sustainability, nourishes a unique public-private partnership and sustains an imperative local employer, key project goals.”

The lighting retrofit and heating improvement project combined to achieve an estimated $108,220 in energy savings across 1,400 light fixtures and 400,000 square feet of building. The International Energy Agency estimates that similar energy-efficiency initiatives in buildings, industrial processes and transportation could reduce the world’s energy needs by a third in 2050. There are more than 32,000 such manufacturing facilities in the United States alone.
The lighting improvements will generate an estimated energy-impact savings of 736-megawatt hours annually, enough to power 64 homes for one month. The gas-heating improvements will save an estimated 40,000 therms annually, enough to power 57 homes for a month. Impressions’ early energy-savings data, coupled with the slow-but-steady upswing in its business, will allow it to increase its employment base by an estimated 16.48 percent by 2012 (it is currently hiring).

These numbers, representing job creation and energy savings, are an example of community economic development, action taken locally by a municipality to provide economic opportunities to improve working conditions in a sustainable way. The City of Washington’s efficiency project demonstrates a healthy public-private partnership benefiting the community, the environment and the local economy, a triple bottom line benefit.
Impressions is a high-quality, store-fixture supplier. Locally, it produces premium fixtures and d├ęcor graphics for well-known retailers. It employs 136 people.

For more information about its current employment opportunities, contact 252-975-0444.

Small Business Entrepreneurial Assistance GRANT

Grant funding may be available to assist Washington business owners expand their businesses.
The Small Business and Entrepreneurial Assistance grant program, sponsored by Community Investment and Assistance Division of the North Carolina Department of Commerce, is designed to assist local governments that are in the process of developing a coordinated effort to support and grow their communities’ existing small businesses. These grants are expected to help create and retain jobs within the state’s most economically distressed communities. The purposes of SBEA grants are to provide funding to local governments to jumpstart growth of existing businesses, create new jobs, retain existing jobs and to develop plans for creating an entrepreneurial environment in the community.
Each business must:
  • be located in the City of Washington;
  • employ a minimum of one person and less than 100 people;
  • be operating for a minimum of two years. Program was design specifically for existing businesses;
  • plan to expand by increasing the number full-time employees (defined as 1,600 hours) over the next two years;
  • 70 percent of all jobs created must go toward creating or retaining jobs for low- to moderate-income persons;
  • businesses previously located outside of the local government boundaries (another town, county, state and the like) are not eligible to participate.
The City of Washington, in an effort to support entrepreneurial activity, is identifying small businesses ready to hire additional full-time people but in need of funding to make this possible. The minimum grant award is $150,000. The maximum grant award is $250,000 (or $25,000 per job).
Examples of activities that may be eligible under this program include:
  • infrastructure improvements (water, sewer, roads);
  • purchase of land;
  • construction of a building or other improvements;
  • renovation of an existing building to accommodate the business;
  • construction of tenant improvements/finishes;
  • leasing space in or purchasing an existing building;
  • purchasing capital equipment;
  • providing job training that can be linked to specific jobs at a specific firm.
Examples of ineligible activities include:
  • revolving loan funds;
  • incubator projects for start-up businesses;
  • job training that cannot be linked to a specific job at a specific firm.
In order to be eligible for funding, businesses must submit the following:
  • business plan, two years minimum;
  • project summary; intended use of funds and explanation;
  • financial statements, covering the most recent two full years and projections for the next two years.
Company financial information cannot be held confidential or returned unless specific documentation is provided by the firm to support the “trade secret” status as defined in NC G.S. 66-152(2) and NC G.S. 132-1.2.
In addition, each business must:
  • execute a legally binding commitment with the City of Washington/N.C. Department of Commerce guaranteeing job creation goals are met;
  • execute a limited waiver of confidentiality for unemployment, tax and wage records (authorizes disclosure of certain information contained in the company’s quarterly unemployment insurance tax records filed with the North Carolina Division of Employment Security);
  • execute a private company commitment form, guaranteeing that quarterly reports will be submitted and that the company agrees to either screen all applications and hires for the required employee statistical information and the required documentation or to allow DES to perform these functions on its behalf;
  • after grant funds are awarded, companies will be required to perform an environmental review as part of the release of conditions process after the grant agreement and funding approval have been issued.
Businesses interested in learning more about the program should contact the City of Washington’s Planning and Development Department no later than March 5 at 252-975-9383 and speak with Bianca Shoneman or send email to bgentile@washingtonnc.gov.