Cassville's DREAM comes true

Thursday, September 30, 2010

It's official. Cassville has been selected to participate in the 2010 DREAM Initiative program. Participation in the three-year grant program will allow the city to jump start efforts to revitalize Cassville's historic downtown.

"I'm ecstatic," said Cassville Mayor Tracy Holle. "We can now take our little town and restore our historic heritage. It's going to provide for a revitalization of our downtown and our Main Street and our whole city."

DREAM stands for Downtown Revitalization and Economic Assistance for Missouri. The DREAM Initiative was launched to help small and mid-sized Missouri communities navigate through the various downtown revitalization, business development and residential resources available through the state to help spark downtown revitalization and job creation efforts.

"It's wonderful," said Cassville City Administrator Eugene Dilbeck after receiving the news of Cassville's selection as one of Missouri's DREAM Initiative cities. "This is one of the best pieces of news Cassville has received in awhile.

"This will give a lot of support and expertise to revitalize our downtown, and quite frankly that's the purpose of the grant," said Dilbeck.

Under the program, selected communities become active members of the DREAM Initiative for three years and gain prioritized access to state-support programs, which can provide technical and financial assistance for infrastructure improvements, historic preservation, affordable housing, community services, business development and job creation.

"This gives us access to the best technical expertise that exists," Dilbeck said.

Dilbeck explained that the DREAM Initiative was not a "bricks and mortar" grant. He said the money received through the grant will be used for planning and technical assistance.

"This grant will help us come up with a plan for the brick and mortar part." Dilbeck said.

In previous years, the grant has paid up to $250,000 over three years with participating cities agreeing to pay 20 percent of the grant amount.

"It's an 80/20 grant," said Dilbeck. "When we submitted the grant, the council had to approve a resolution agreeing to pay our 20 percent if approved. We're prepared to pay that amount (up to $50,000) over the next three years."

Through surveys conducted in conjunction with the Master Plan process that was completed last year, city officials learned that community members have a deep interest in the appearance and vibrancy of downtown Cassville.

"There's a lot of pride in Cassville, and the showcase piece of the city is our downtown," said Dilbeck. "The community wants our downtown looking vibrant.

"This grant will give us the shot of adrenaline we need to create the momentum to make downtown revitalization happen," Dilbeck added.

The DREAM Initiative grant will work in concert with the city's Master Plan and the newly formed Downtown Cassville Partnership.

The city's economic development director, Lynette Dilbeck, was responsible for writing the grant, which was ultimately approved by the state.

"Lynette is the one who did all the work," said Eugene Dilbeck. "She was the work horse on this."

Mayor Holle believes the city's ability to obtain the 2010 DREAM Initiative is a direct result of the master plan for Cassville that was completed and adopted by the city last year.

"Already we're seeing a return on the investment we spent on the master plan," said Mayor Holle. "This is a plan that won't sit on the shelf. It will be visible on the street.

"Getting the DREAM Initiative is something we and everyone involved in the task force groups and those who worked on the master plan can be proud of," added Mayor Holle. "It has been a team effort."

Cassville is one of five cities selected to receive the 2010 DREAM Initiative. Other cities chosen for the program are Monett, Jackson, Ozark and Waynesville. The group represents the fifth round of communities involved in the DREAM initiative, which administered jointly by the Missouri Department of Economic Development (DED), the Missouri Housing Development Commission and the Missouri Development Finance Board.

"The DREAM Initiative is a key instrument in the DED toolbox to aid in the economic development and downtown revitalization of the communities that have been selected as DREAM communities," said DED Director David Kerr.

DREAM applications were evaluated, and according to Kerr, attention was given to community capacity, vision, opportunity for private investment, broad community support and a comprehensive approach.

Since the DREAM Initiative was established five years ago, DREAM communities have received more than $179 million in public investment for housing, construction and renovation projects and infrastructure improvements. Public funding secured through the initiative has created $600 million in private investment to benefit DREAM communities.

Communities that have been selected over the past four years as DREAM communities are: Cape Girardeau, Excelsior Springs, Hannibal, Hermann, Kennett, Neosho, Sedalia, St. Joseph, Washington, West Plains, Aurora, Boonville, Brookfield, California, Caruthersville, Chillicothe, Clinton, Farmington, Fulton, Farmington, Kirksville, Lamar, Lebanon, Louisiana, Maryville, Mexico, New Haven, Poplar Bluff, Rolla, Sikeston, Strafford, Trenton, Warrensburg and Webb City.

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