SILOAM SPRINGS (KFSM) -- When business owner Don Lurie opened his pizzeria two years ago in downtown Siloam Springs, the town looked much different.
"A lot of empty buildings, a lot of empty store fronts," Lurie said.
His business, along with several other local businesses in the downtown area have been able to revive their store fronts with a grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation program.
Buildings in the downtown historic district date back to the 1800's.
"There’s so much life for those historic buildings now, there’s so much going on, this grant has been a huge part of that life-giving experience because we are able to infuse that money right back into the businesses,’’ said Kelsey Howard, Main Street Executive Director.
Since using the grant to purchase a new awning and give his store front a fresh coat of paint, Lurie’s resturant has seen an increase in customers.
"We get a lot more people saying, wow! We didn’t even know you were here. Now they see it and we stand out when people are coming down the street," Lurie said.
Downtown business owners apply for a portion of the grant by explaining why their building needs structural revitalization to the Arkansas Main Street Board of Directors. If their business is chosen, business owners will receive two-thirds of the allotted money.
"We are giving two-thirds of the money to cover their project, they cover the other third,"Howard said.
This years grant totals $15,000. Lurie is hoping the money will continue to revive downtown buildings, and put Siloam Springs on the map.
"This town deserves to be a destination, it really does. It’s a great place to go, there’s great stuff to see,'’ Lurie said.
This year the Arkansas Historic Preservation program has awarded over $2 million in grants for projects in 44 Arkansas counties through revitalization grant programs.