By Callie Hietala
The Uptown is looking a little brighter, thanks to Elle Wilk, owner of Southern Virginia Properties.
The real estate business, located at 10 Bridge Street in Martinsville, was the recipient of $1,717.50 from the Small Business Grant Program run by the Martinsville-Henry County Chamber’s Partnership for Economic Growth (C-PEG.) The money was for improvements to the building’s façade.
“I really appreciate the opportunity that the chamber and C-PEG have given me to refurbish and remodel the façade of our building,” Wilk said at the Aug. 26 grant presentation.
“From the time we bought the building, about 15 years ago, we did all the interior painting, redecorating, and all of that,” said Wilk. More recently, the renovated the upstairs office space into an efficiency apartment that visitors can rent on Airbnb.
Between the apartment and the new façade, Wilk said nearly $15,000 was spent on building improvements. The C-PEG grant covered half of the amount spent on updating the façade, which involved painting the exterior, putting up a new sign, and replacing bulbs, and just generally “brightening the whole thing up,” said Wilk.
Though a fresh coat of paint may seem like a small thing to some, Wilk said she thinks the outside of a business is just as important as the inside. “My paint was chipping and peeling, it looked old. We felt it was important to be clean and presentable because your storefront is the face of your business, so we had to have it improved.”
Businesses wishing to be considered for C-PEG’s Small Business Grant Program must have been members of the chamber for at least three years and be located in Martinsville or Henry County. Applicants must be prepared to match one-third of the requested funding and the funds must be used to either improve the façade of the business, create jobs, assist in the training of the current workforce, or expand or make a required payment essential to the well-being of the business.
“There’s a lot of activity in Uptown,” said Mark McCaskill, Martinsville’s Community Development Director at the grant presentation. He added that many pieces are starting to come together and that façade improvements like Elle’s are “just the beginning” of a transformation.
Standing with McCaskill and representatives from the chamber in front of her newly painted building, Wilk shared his positive outlook for the future. “I’m looking forward to great things to come,” she said.