City of LaGrange awarded $2M Innovative Grant for community improvement, job training initiatives

The City of LaGrange is the first recipient of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Innovative Grant Program from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). CDBG is a federally funded program for states which focuses on benefitting low- to moderate-income people by providing resources for livable neighborhoods, economic empowerment, and decent housing.

The CDBG Innovative Grant program focuses on projects that will result in transformational changes: individual or a series of activities which will support long-term, systemic, and sustainable change. This grant is only eligible for non-entitlement communities (cities with populations of less than 50,000 and counties with less than 200,000).  

“This grant provides an opportunity for communities to demonstrate and develop forward-thinking, solution-driven initiatives that will enhance the quality of life for residents for generations to come,” Kimberly Carter, DCA’s Office of Community Development Director, said. After a review of pre-applications, five communities were invited to submit a final application and three were provided. The City of LaGrange had the highest scoring application.

The $2 million grant will be used to transform an area in the Whitesville Road Corridor by acquiring and reconstructing seven dilapidated homes as rental units. Funds will also be used to purchase and renovate a commercial property that will serve as a Workforce Development Training Center where individuals will be prepared for and work alongside professionals in industries such as carpentry, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC installation and repair. Collectively, this project will help approximately 131 people.

LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton said several local businesses and community partners connected and developed this approach. He said, “I appreciate DCA offering this opportunity for communities to think creatively and to propose innovative solutions to recurring issues. DCA’s grant will allow us to improve substandard housing, provide job training, and enhance one of our major gateways.”

Carter added, “The city’s Comprehensive Plan identified a lack of jobs and poverty as weaknesses in the community, so this project provides a much-needed remedy. The partnership-based focus also reflects the importance of collaboration for community improvement.”

The LaGrange Housing Authority, Callaway Foundation, DASH Neighborhood Revitalization, Circles of Troup County, Ark Refuge Ministries, Fellowship Deliverance Ministries, Troup County School System, West Georgia Technical College, and a host of private construction companies provided letters of support for the application as did the residents who are to be assisted by the project.

Christopher Nunn, DCA Commissioner, said, “The City of LaGrange has developed a remarkable community revitalization strategy which will result in housing solutions and workforce training. It is this type of ingenious thinking that will continue to move communities forward.”