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Small Utah towns using grant-funded projects to entice visitors

Posted at 5:51 PM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 19:51:33-04

HELPER, Utah — A few years ago, the city of Helper was not what came to mind when it came to a weekend getaway. But with gas prices being so high, areas like Helper and Brigham City are working to entice travelers, and all it takes is some people willing to work along with a little help from grants.

"Helper has a great artistic vibe, wonderful natural assets, and historic relevance you don’t see anywhere else in Utah," said Helper Mayor Lenise Peterman.

Art galleries, antique stores, and retro Airbnb's are now seen around town.

"Helper is way cool," added Peterman. "It’s just got such a great vibe walking down Main Street."

The evolution is from the work of entrepreneurs, and Mayor Peterman’s grant writing.

"I’ve gotten over $2.5 million in grant funding, across all areas of helper."

Next up is Brigham City.

Donna and Dave Walker didn’t just buy the old Union Block building for their consignment business, appropriately called Consignology; they got things started by fixing up downtown. Most storefronts have been redone, at least five of which received help from Utah-go grants; others from the Historic Downtown Main Street Program.

"If merchants put out beautiful flowers and benches and that type of thing, they’ll be reimbursed for that for beautification," said Donna Walker.

Next up? Eureka. Maybe.

Mayor Chris Dever says the highway running through town is too narrow to expand the sidewalks, but small businesses like restaurants and Airbnb's are popping up and the mayor wants them to take the lead.

"I personally need to make sure that I identify some of those resources and help our business owners maybe apply for some of that."