2019 has been a positive year for communities across Chatham-Kent and one such example is a revitalized downtown core of Blenheim, Ontario. Thanks to investments from local business owners, an active BIA, and municipal programs such as the Downtown Community Improvement Program, a variety of storefronts have seen a rejuvenation of both their exteriors and interiors.
In a little over a year, a variety of businesses including Black Comb Barbershop, Serena's Ladies Wear took advantage of the Community Improvement Program to improve their building exterior. Mindful Market and Eco Hub along with Postma Fitness Centre also made significant façade upgrades to their buildings through private investment.
“It shows the strength and vibrancy of a community when tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars, are reinvested back into our downtowns and surrounding areas,” said Stuart McFadden, Director of Chatham-Kent Economic Development. “I’ve told staff to get out, hit the street, and work with our local businesses and investors to access funds such as the Community Improvement Program because I know it’s an important part of ensuring we set ourselves up for growth.”
Jackie Lambkin, Owner of Serena’s Ladies Wear, took advantage of the Community Improvement Program to help her improve the front visage of her store.
“It was a relatively easy process and we couldn’t be happier because now we have an amazing building that is more inviting for all our customers,” said Lambkin. “Having access to the program freed up additional dollars in our budget that we were able to then use to make improvements inside the store as well. Now it feels completely new, is a lot brighter inside, and makes me so much happier every time I walk in the door.”
“I must thank Heather Rylett for her beautiful design and vision, Fred Naclerio from Apollo General Contracting and his tradesman for their hard work, and Greg Houston from the Municipal Planning Services. They helped me take my dream and make it a reality,” added Lambkin.
Of course, it takes more than just working the traditional 9 to 5 day to make all of these changes happen. For example, Economic Development staff spotted Postma Fitness working on a Sunday afternoon back in July installing the letters to their new sign in preparation for their grand opening.
“Whether it’s Blenheim, Dresden, Ridgetown, Tilbury, Wheatley or any other community in Chatham-Kent, one of the common things that connects us all is our passion to put our best foot forward and create spaces where families and businesses can grow and thrive,” said McFadden. “Our work is not done, but we are without a doubt moving in the right direction.”
In addition to physical upgrades to businesses, the Economic Development Digital Service Squad is also working with businesses in Blenheim to upgrade their digital footprint.
“The team has been hitting communities across Chatham-Kent and they recently had a business blitz in Blenheim where they were working hard to help promote the Digital Main Street grant which is soon coming to an end,” said Jamie Rainbird, Manager of Chatham-Kent Economic Development.
To learn more about the Digital Service Squad, the Community Improvement Program, and other development opportunities, visit Chatham-Kent Economic Development at www.investck.ca.
Jackie Lambkin, Owner of Serena’s Ladies Wear, in front of her newly renovated store in downtown Blenheim
Serena’s Ladies Wear before photo, prior to the renovation of the building exterior
Installing the new sign letters on Postma Fitness in Downtown Blenheim on a Sunday afternoon in July, 2019
- Additional façade developments in Blenheim:
- 2017: 12 Talbot Street West, Blenheim
- 2018: 65 Ellen Street, Blenheim
- Learn more about Chatham-Kent Economic Development on our website: http://www.investck.ca
Marketing and Communications Officer, Economic Development Services
Municipality of Chatham-Kent
Phone: 519-352-8401 x2039