Grants help fund $2.8 million of improvements in Brownsville


BROWNSVILLE, Tenn. — The city of Brownsville had a busy 2016 after being awarded millions in state grants. Seven businesses in downtown Brownsville are getting a long-awaited facelift.

“We’re really trying to prepare our city to grow while maintaining our historical heritage,” Brownsville Mayor Bill Rawls Jr. said.

The Tennessee Department of Economic Development awarded the city an $85,000 facade grant to improve businesses’ exteriors, adding paint, awnings, new windows and doors. It’s something business owners on the court square appreciate.

“I think that it looks amazing,” Brownsville Religious Center owner Ora House said. “I think that the colors brighten up the location and bring a lot of attention to the business.”

The goal of the Main Street Brownsville program is to bring businesses back to downtown in hopes of getting some of the 11,000 cars that pass through downtown daily to support the small businesses in the square.

“The heartbeat of any community starts in the downtown area,” Main Street Brownsville Director Mary Ann Sharpe said. “If your downtown is thriving, then I think it just pulsates out into the community.”

“I hope it brings more traffic in, more shoppers, more revenue,” House said. “Because when something is brand new, it makes people want to come by and stop and shop to see what’s changed also on the inside.”

Thanks to a state tourism grant, the city plans to add bathrooms outside the court square amphitheater for public use during events downtown. That $50,000 along with a $25,000 USDA grant will also go toward landscaping and is expected to be done before performances start in May.

“We want people to continue to want to move here and enjoy a good quality of life, not only for new residents but for existing residents,” Mayor Rawls said.

“We want them to stop and see what we are doing,” Sharpe said. “It shows that we care about our community.”

In 2016, 10 new businesses opened and the city invested more than $2.8 million into downtown improvements.

Categories: Local News, News