GALLIPOLIS — For nine years, a group of residents have been working together towards one common goal – to make Gallipolis a place people love to live and visit.
The Downtown Revitalization Project (DRP), formerly known as the Digital River Project, has been holding fundraisers and collecting donations since 2012 to help give back to the community through events and assisting businesses.
“What we’ve been focused on since we started [is] helping business thrive in downtown Gallipolis, but also kind of reinvigorating downtown Gallipolis,” said Jodie Penrod, secretary/treasurer. “Whether that be through events or businesses, or things like that.”
The group has hosted several events to raise money that also give something fun for the community. Most recently the DRP helped host The Hoop Project. They have also hosted, River Rat Festival, The Price is Right, Paw Patrol in the Park and more.
DRP hopes to bring things to the area for people to enjoy.
“Kind of allow people to enjoy our downtown again, get it back to what it used to be. Where there were shops and stores and restaurants and things for people to do in the park. So, that has been our goal for the last several years,” Penrod said.
The DRP has helped several businesses along Second Avenue, including The Potted Edge and The Lucky Cat, two businesses that share a location and moved to a storefront with the help of the DRP.
“They actually gave us a grant that was enough to cover all of our startup costs,” said Wendy Canaday, co-owner of The Potted Edge.
While located in the same storefront, The Potted Edge and The Lucky Cat are two separate businesses.
“They actually gave each one of us a $7,000 grant, I believe. $7,000 a piece, so we were able to use that to pay the startup for rent, buy inventory, retail displays things like that. Without that we would have had to go to the bank and get a loan,” Canaday said.
Canaday and co-owner, Lori Clary started The Potted Edge as an at-home business.
“Lori and I started this by doing workshops and selling out of our home, even before we had the idea of opening a store,” Canaday said. “We were going to places and we were setting up DIY workshops where we taught them about the plants and how to make a cute arrangement and doing that.”
When it came to opening the store, Canaday said they knew they would need a large planting table to be able to continue hosting parties and customers to plant their own creation.
“We do birthday parties, we’ve done bridal showers, kids parties, you name it,” Canaday said.
The DRP brought The Potted Edge and Lucky Cat together when the storefront space opened.
“This was the only place in town we would want our shop to be because we wanted to be right downtown and this was the only space available,” Canaday said. “We were, I guess, hesitant to take over the whole space because we didn’t know, we knew that plants were becoming very popular and people were loving it, but as far as long-term being able to afford this big of a space by ourselves, I was hesitant to jump right into that.
It was recommended to Canaday to reach out to Elisha Meadows-Biland, owner of Lucky Cat about sharing a space. Meadows-Biland was feeling the same as Canaday and Clary so the three decided to share the space.
“The DRP grant definitely made the whole ‘getting started’ process easier,” Meadows-Biland said. “The grant money helped me start off without so much financial pressure.”
Canaday said she believes the group has a huge impact on downtown businesses.
“I think it’s extremely important. The whole point of the DRP is to bring businesses to this downtown area. Several years ago, there were hardly any little shops down here,” Canaday said. “Without them, a little startup business like mine for instance, I can’t say I would’ve been willing to jump in and do this without the DRP’s help.”
Canaday said the DRP is more than just a grant program to start businesses and hold events. She said the group is a community of support.
“I think without the DRP, there might not be as many businesses down here as there were,” Canaday said. “Especially during COVID. The DRP granted money to everyone of their recipients to help them get through COVID as well. Running as small business, it’s not easy.
Meadows-Biland said the DRP works hard to help those entering the business world and she hopes people see their hard work.
“I think they deserve a lot of credit for bringing our downtown back to life,” Meadows-Biland said. “When you start a small business, there isn’t always money available. We are definitely fortunate to have the DRP and the support of our community. The DRP is a wonderful group of people who volunteer their time and simply love Gallipolis.
The DRP is currently planning a New Year’s event that will be held downtown. The event includes a win/win raffle, with tickets being sold until the event and a winner being drawn for half of “the pot.”
“We have a fundraiser right now, the win/win raffle is what we’re working on right now. It’s essentially a split the pot, for lack of a better term,” Penrod said. “Half of the proceeds go to the DRP so we can help keep and reinvigorating and things like that downtown and help businesses. And then half would go to the winner, so right now our pot is about $25,000. That pot will continue to grow until New Year’s Eve.”
Local businesses or entrepreneurs can apply through the DRP website for a grant. Grants are available for startup businesses and businesses wanting to do something new.
“The types of grants that we like to do are things that are really going to help businesses and help business thrive in downtown…,” Penrod said.
Canaday said the DRP is an encouragement to small businesses that helps everyone.
“I think it’s just an incentive for somebody that is on the cusp of starting their own business or already has their own business and is working out of their own home. It’s an incentive for them to invest in downtown,” Canaday said. “They can get that help that they need from the DRP without having to go into debt for it. That brings more employees downtown, that brings more people downtown to shop, which then in turn they’re going to restaurants. It’s a win-win for everybody.
Penrod has been a member of the DRP since it started. She said the group wanted to make a place for people to love, whether through events or new businesses.
“What we wanted to do was kind of bring entrepreneurship types of things to downtown Gallipolis,” Penrod said. “After a few years of that we changed our name because we wanted to focus on downtown as a whole, not just businesses. We wanted to be a part in making it a fun place to live and a somewhere where people love to live.”
The group is always accepting donations and volunteers.
“It’s important that people understand that we’re all very passionate about downtown Gallipolis and making it a community, a place that everybody wants to live and work. So, that’s kind of our goal, is to keep it thriving,” Penrod said.
Tickets can be purchased online at winwinraffle.com or through a DRP member. More information on the group or to volunteer go to galliadrp.com or reach out to Penrod.
© 2021 Ohio Valley Publishing, all rights reserved.
Brittany Hively is a freelance writer and graduate of Marshall University, with a bachelor’s degree in public relations and journalism.