LAWRENCEVILLE, Ill. (WTHI) - The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce has worked hard to make downtown Lawrenceville a popular destination with the hope new business will find its way to the square.
Old shops line the square of downtown, but some of the owners are new. The Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce is working on making that a trend.
Chamber leaders want to keep existing visitors coming and bring new business; something Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rachel Gard says is critical.
"We really feel the backbone of Illinois and rural county Illinois is our mom and pop shops," said Gard.
Mom and pop shop owner, Wanda Sechrest says she picked her shop's location because downtown seemed like the right choice.
"We chose downtown because Lawrenceville is home." said Sechrest.
She and her husband's shop, The Finishing Touch Gallery, is one of the newer shops on the square.
Shops like the Sechrest's are the reason the chamber of commerce is making the push to bring back business.
"We're determined now, more than ever to bring life back to downtown Lawrenceville," Gard said.
To do so, Gard and her fellow chamber colleagues applied for a state grant to raise money.
The money from the grant will go towards revitalizing the square; namely, new sidewalks, street lamps and curb work. In a recent event, small business owners held a rally to raise money for the project.
Gard estimates around $100,000 was collected. The state grant, if approved, will match a portion of that cash.
Gard won't know if the grant request is approved until 2014.
If the grant is denied, the chamber will discuss ways to allocate the $100,000 already raised.
"The people, the enthusiasm behind the project, because we all care for the community," noted Gard talking about why it's so important that downtown come back to life.
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