Skip to Main Content

Tennesseans 16+: Now Eligible for a COVID-19 Vaccine

Façade Improvement Program


Tennessee Main Street communities and communities that have participated in the Tennessee Downtowns program in Rounds 1-5 and have an active Design Committee are eligible for a grant from the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development (TNECD) for commercial facade improvements. Approximately five grants of up to $100,000 will be awarded to organizations that can illustrate the need for a facade program and the ability to execute an effective design plan for the facade improvements.

Please note that this program is now state funded and requirements have changed from the previous application process.

Capitol marquee II
Chris Cantrell bldg_


Eligible projects are exterior improvements to for-profit or non-profit commercial businesses including signage, painting, awnings, lighting, windows, doors, entryways and other approved improvements (interior improvements are not allowed). Contact TNECD with questions about other potential activities.

The Façade Improvement Grant is reimbursable and all expenditures must take place within the timeframe of the grant period as designated by the grant contract. The grant period begins when a contract is signed and returned to TNECD which is expected to be in the fall of 2019. Applications are due August 2, 2019.

The grant applications must be submitted by the local Main Street organization, the sponsoring non-profit organization for the Tennessee Downtowns program or the city in which the improvements will be made. The contract will be between the Main Street organization or the city and TNECD.

Grantees can use up to five (5) percent of the funding for grantee administration. Additionally, the grant requires 25% matching funds. All expenditures must be requested by reimbursement requests on official forms provided by TNECD. All applicants must illustrate the ability to manage this program.

Note: If your community received a Commercial Façade Grant award in 2017, 2018 or have a current open façade grant, your application will be deemed ineligible, and will not be considered. If you have previously received a façade grant and believe you are eligible to apply this round, please make sure your application includes compelling supportive information as to why and how receiving an additional façade grant will be transformative for your community.

Application Process

Required Files: Budget Form (Must be completed and uploaded with application)

Download Application Instructions

Complete Application: An application should be prepared that completes the documents in this package, includes the resolution(s) from the city council and includes photos documenting the need for the project. “Soft” commitments from property owners should also be included. These can be letters of support, intention to apply statements, etc.; check with TNECD for additional options.

Flood Plain Projects: Projects in the 100-year flood plain require additional review and documentation to ensure that the project should be completed. Flood insurance is required for all structures in a flood plain that use federal funds for improvements or rehabilitation.

Procurement: All contractors must be competitively procured according to state or local procurement standards, whichever is more restrictive. Minority and female contractors should be invited to bid. Bids must be opened publicly, and minutes must be kept of the meeting. Bids should be awarded to the lowest, most responsive bidder. If a community elects not to use the lowest bidder, justification must be made to and approved by TNECD.

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be reviewed according to the following criteria:

Project Need (35 points): Documentation of the need for the project and how it fits into a plan for downtown development. Photos are important to show project need and points in the section are awarded based on the photos and the description of need (20 points available). Photos should be of buildings that will be part of the program as well as photos of the entire area.

Address how this program will meet the design plan or design guidelines for your community, foster the design aspect of the downtown development plan, and what architectural impact the project will have on your downtown community (15 points available).

Project Impact (10 points): How will this project benefit the downtown, the community, the Tennessee Main Street or Tennessee Downtowns program, individual businesses, etc.? Will additional funds be leveraged to increase the impact of the program?

Project Plan (20 points): Describe the plan for the project including how subgrantees will be selected, how the subgrantees will be managed, how the grantee will ensure all regulations and rules are followed, etc.

Project Feasibility (10 points): Evidence that the project can begin quickly and be completed within eighteen months of contract approval and that those managing the program are qualified.

Community Support (10 points): Evidence in the application that the community is supportive of the project through leveraging of additional funds, letters of support, etc. Send a maximum of five letters from the local community and local elected officials. Letters from state representatives and state senators are not necessary.

Economic Ranking (15 points): Points will be distributed as follows: Tier 4 – 15, Tier 3 – 10, Tier 2 – 5, Tier 1 – 0

Tennessee Main Street communities will receive five (5) additional points on their application.

Award and Announcement

Façade Improvement Grant Applications will be reviewed by the staff of the Rural Development division and TNECD’s Grant Committee. All contracts will be sent directly to grantee for signature and returned to TNECD for final signatures and approvals. Contracts must be signed by all parties before work can be performed.

Communities participating in this grant program will be required to submit proper documentation of all grant expenditures. Failure to follow specified uses or accounting requirements may result in loss of program participation. All grantees will be required to attend training.

Contact Information

312 Rosa L. Parks Ave., 27th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243

Phone: 615-336-2481

Phone: 615-806-3185