Too much success? George West misses out on revitalization grant

In an instance of good news, bad news, the city of George West recently learned that the community was too prosperous to successfully seek a grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture which would have gone toward downtown revitalization.

While parts of downtown, notably those closest to the Live Oak County Courthouse, including the Dobie West Performing Arts Theatre, George West Steakhouse and Live Oak Title Company have already been renovated, other areas have been targeted for renewal.

That subject was prominent at a George West City Council meeting back in 2019, and remains a goal for city leaders. However, in partnering with GrantWorks to put together an application for a downtown revitalization grant, Interim George West City Manager Shirley Holm said it was determined that the city would likely not have enough points based on various criteria to receive the grant.

Holm told the GW City Council that based on several factors, George West only tallied about 57 to 60 points in grant criteria, and GrantWorks representatives told Holm that they had not seen a city receive that type of grant unless it obtained at least 85 points, discouraging city leaders from applying.

Among the areas in which George West’s success worked against it in the grant process were a citywide unemployment rate of 1.1 percent compared to a state average of 5.1 percent and a low income rate of 31.4 percent, where a 51 percent rate was required to receive extra points.

Holm noted that the city’s economic development board would also need to be a corporation to receive the full number of points for the grant application.

“Basically, about 35 points (in the grant process) are unachievable for George West,” Holm said.

The irony is that the city’s success has basically disqualified it from receiving the TDA grant.

“This type of grant is for low to moderate income areas,” Holm said. “I feel probably we need to focus on other grants, revisit it later or go another route.”

The Progress