Local businesses awarded grants by JCDA and City of Ripley and Ravenswood

Suzette Lowe

The Jackson County Development Authority understands that the outside look of a business influences its appeal to consumers.

A few years ago, the agency offered small businesses in Ripley and Ravenswood grants to improve the face of their buildings.

Meghan Parsons, administrative assistant of the JCDA, said those initial grants made noticeable differences to many local businesses.

This year, the development authority felt it was even more important to support hometown businesses looking to refresh and update.

"With the pandemic's economic impact on all businesses, but especially small local ones, we knew none would have the money to make necessary improvements," Parsons said. "Being able to offer a $1,500 grant to five businesses in both Ripley and Ravenswood was something we were very glad to do."

Grants were awarded to Dairy Queen, Wild Vapes, Black Bear Capital, Frugal Frog and Hallowbeans in Ripley. In Ravenswood, Hope House Ministries, Ravenswood Inn Bed & Breakfast, Niche Polymer, Humpty Dumpty Nursery School and Ravenswood Floral were chosen.

Steve and Sabrina Cogar know how much curb appeal means to their bed and breakfast.

"We plan on painting and repairing the fences, resurfacing the porch and having the landscaping professionally refreshed," Sabrina said.

With the pandemic impacting travel, the Ravenswood Inn faced some hard times.

The Ravenswood Inn Bed & Breakfast will see many updates with the façade grant money.

"This grant will make a huge difference for us," she said. "To be able to make the needed changes is such a blessing."

The city councils of both Ravenswood and Ripley, led by Mayors Josh Miller and Carolyn Rader, saw the opportunity to give a boost to their towns. Each council voted to give grants to many of the other grant applicants that were unable to be funded by the JCDA.

"We need to pull out all the stops to jumpstart our economy post-COVID," said Mayor Miller. “Being able to give these small businesses a chance to improve is something we saw as our commitment to that economic growth. We were proud to be part of this project."

Businesses that will receive a grant from the city are Wright Electric, Steaming Cup Café, SS Accounting, The Sit & Spin, Angell Accounting, Affectionately Yours Floral, Courts Corner Salon, Maximum Fitness and Frontier Furniture and Flooring.

Parsons said that three of the businesses, Hope House, Sit & Spin and SS Accounting, are in connected buildings.

"I know they have a plan to coordinate with each other to make a cohesive look," she said. "We love to see that cooperation."

For a relatively new Ripley business, the grant came at just the right time.

Jason Perlak, owner of Advice Enterprises on South Church Street, said, "We were able to line and seal our parking lot. By using Jason Casto's company to do the job, we were able to give back locally as well. It means so much that our city took personal interest and funded this grant. We prioritized and will use the rest of the money to pressure wash our building. We want to reflect Ripley properly and show how a small business can look very professional."

Jason Perlak and Adam Hager received a grant for resurfacing the parking lot and other projects at Advice Enterprises.

Other Ripley locations chosen for funding by Ripley City Council were Jewelers Touch, His & Her Day Spa, Kennad Skeens Attorney, Hersman & Associates, Ice Scream Sundae, Kountry K9 Groom and Board, Ripley Family Marital Arts and Randolph Rentals & Investments.

"Our businesses are so wonderful," said Mayor Rader. "We saw this as a great opportunity to give them help they so richly deserve. The recipients were very appreciative."

An additional benefit to the economy is the requirement for the grant recipients to use local vendors for materials and services.

"We felt it was important that they buy locally, if at all possible," Parsons said. "If what they need isn't available in the county, they can purchase elsewhere but they have to get prior permission from the JCDA to do that."

Parsons said she and JCDA Director Mark Whitley will check periodically to see how improvements are progressing.

"While we know $1,500 is not a huge amount of money, careful planning can make it go a long way," said Parsons. “I think we're going to see some amazing changes in these businesses, from signage to flowers to parking lot resurfacing. It's just so good to see the morale boost these grants give."

For information on services offered by the Jackson County Development Authority, call 304-372-1151.