Johnstown village officials want to construct and maintain a downtown business database to boost its chances of winning a $400,000 matching grant from the Ohio Department of Development.

Johnstown village officials want to construct and maintain a downtown business database to boost its chances of winning a $400,000 matching grant from the Ohio Department of Development.

Village manager Jim Lenner said ODOD wants to see how the money would be used to improve downtown businesses if Johnstown is awarded the grant.

Lenner said the database would include an inventory that would give a "snapshot of the nature of the building and how it could be better preserved."

"It's not there to pry into their operations or anything like that," Lenner said. "We're just trying to figure out what businesses are downtown how the structures are being handled."

The database would include a list of needed facility improvements, such as repairing leaky roofs or crumbling foundations or upgrading where there are building code violations.

"It's really an assistance role from the village and for downtown Johnstown more than it is a regulatory role," Lenner said.

Pat Kramer, owner of Gifts By Us at 86 W. Coshocton St., said the database sounds like a good idea.

"It will at least let everyone know who's who and where they're at," she said. "It's just a matter of people wanting to invest in Johnstown."

The village will hold two public meetings, scheduled for Aug. 16 and Aug. 30, to see what businesses are interested in making renovations to their property with matching funds from the grant.

Lenner estimates business and property owners would only need to invest $15,000 because he said the village would leverage approximately $350,000 for the grant -$200,000 of that amount coming from a streetscape grant the village already received from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

He said the village is waiting for approval of a second grant worth $150,000

The village would also match a required 10 percent, or $40,000, if the ODOD grant request is approved.

Lenner said he plans to send out a letter notifying business and property owners of the plans for a database of all downtown buildings.

He said the village would need to receive "firm commitments" from owners within the next month of those who would like to invest in building upgrades.

"We already have talked with a lot of people to see if they are interested in the project," Lenner said, "so we'll just get those firmed up and get them written in the grant application.

"The more unified the village looks, the better."

He said the database could be used for several other purposes.

"In the future, it will also help Realtors know that there are vacant buildings or vacant apartments," Lenner said.

Upgrades to downtown buildings will also make them more valuable, he said, enabling property owners to ask higher rents. It will have a positive economic impact for downtown.

He said that could mean more retail stores and restaurant in the area.

"We're trying to make it more advantageous for building and business owners in the downtown area just to be more competitive or be competitive with shopping centers," Lenner said.