MSL national win for members’ tech assessments, online help

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MSL WINS NATIONAL GRANT – The historic courthouse is reflected in the window of the Main Street Laurens office. Photo by Judith Brown

Laurens, South Carolina – It was announced Tuesday afternoon that Main Street Laurens is one of only eight Main Street America programs across the nation to receive a Grills Funding for Main Street Revitalization Grant, which offers $10,000 to aid in the recovery from the economic crunch caused by COVID-19.

A nationally accredited program, Main Street Laurens won with its proposal to help the smaller Main Street businesses develop and obtain online presence.

“We found during the COVID shutdown the importance of having an online presence,” Main Street Laurens Executive Director Jonathan Irick said. “Some of the businesses pivoted quickly and some took a little longer, and some still don’t have an online presence.”

With Main Street Laurens’ plan, titled “Technology Audit and Small Business Training,” Main Street Laurens will perform technology audits of each of the Main Street member businesses and then help them move forward.

“Having the ability to take their business online is so important,” Irick said. “We did a consumer survey and 80 percent of those who responded said they would like to see curbside service continue after the shutdown, and so you have to have an E-commerce component. We will be looking at the members’ current online weaknesses, help them identify those areas and strengthen them so that moving forward, they will have a better footing under them in case of any emergency.”

Funds from the Grills Fund will help with workshops and will assist in establishing technology grants for the member businesses that need assistance, Irick said.

According to the Main Street America website which announced the eight winners, the Grills funding grant was named for Joe and Marge Grills of Rapidan, Virginia, who have been long-time supporters of Main Street programming.

“Only accredited Main Street programs could apply,” Irick said, referring to the accreditation credentials the Laurens program earned in late winter of this year. It was the first Main Street program in South Carolina to earn the credentials.

Also selected for the grant were Main Street programs in North Carolina, Virginia, Louisiana, New Mexico, Michigan, Oklahoma and Ohio.

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