MATHIS – Mathis Economic Development Cooperation Executive Director Doug Dowler has been hard at work since getting the job a little more than two years ago, applying for grants and fixing up the downtown area. And finally it seems like all of his and the EDC board members hard work is finally paying off.
Straight from the desk of Texas Department of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller to the desk of Mayor Ciri Villarreal, two grants have been approved that will allow some major changes to Mathis’ landscape.
“We’ve received notification that we’ve been awarded, first of all, our downtown revitalization sidewalk project, which will allow us then to take two blocks in our downtown district and revitalize the sidewalks as well as add new landscaping and street lights,” Dowler said. “So we’re going to make a real positive change and we’re excited about the project.”
Since Dowler started as the executive director of the MEDC, this project has been one of his and board members’ top priorities. The revitalization project will begin with the 100 and 200 block of E. San Patricio Avenue where the EDC owns two buildings that are in various stages of repair and restoration.
The $250,000 grant will virtually transform the downtown area with the help of city planners, engineers and, of course, Mathis residents. The MEDC plans on getting input from residents during future meetings with the planners to design a community-friendly downtown district.
Dowler continued, “And once we get the designs done we’ll get some bids on them and hopefully we’ll start construction some time this summer.”
The second grant awarded to MEDC is a $100,000 Small and Microenterprise Revolving Loan Fund from the TDA. This loan program can be used for any local small business looking for operating funds, inventory and equipment.
“Many times with small businesses, the hardest money for them to have is operating money,” Dowler explained. “And this is designed to assist them.
“Maybe they’re looking to expand, maybe they want new inventory for a special occasion like the Fourth of July, or if they just want to expand their operations and need some new equipment as well.”
Dowler stated that the funds can’t be used for construction or on business structures and the maximum a business can apply for will be $40,000.
He also said that once the contracts are signed and delivered, which can take up to 60 days, he plans to roll out the program along with some new marketing materiels to go along with their new mathisedc.org website.
With all the EDC’s cumulative efforts finally coming to fruition, what’s next for Mathis?
“Go on and do some more,” Dowler added with a laugh. “The only limiting factor is money, but we’ll continue to pursue avenues to secure additional funding to carry the process in our downtown district as funds become available.
“We’re making it to where people want to come and now we need small businesses to come and locate downtown so people have a reason to come and shop down here.
“We’re excited and I hope people will come and visit our downtown once we get through.
“It’s still almost too good to be true.”