By: Rebecca Patrick

            LAUREL – Spring is a season that inspires people to refresh and renew, to clean up and spruce up. With that in mind, the Jones County Chamber of Commerce is offering its members an opportunity to do just that with its new Community Development Grant Program.
            The purpose of the grant is to encourage existing business owners/tenants to upgrade their buildings for public safety and accessibility for persons with disabilities. Grants may also be used to enhance building exteriors and improve the overall appearance of a facility.
            “There are various programs like this throughout the state, and the Chamber thought this was something we could do to help our members,” explained Ross Tucker, president and CEO of the Jones County Chamber of Commerce. “By reinvesting in them and their improvement efforts, all of Jones County benefits. This is a win-win program, and we are excited to offer this to our Chamber members.”
            The grants for this year are available through September 30. All applicants will be awarded on a first-come-first-served basis. They are structured to be 50/50 reimbursable matches for amounts not to exceed $1,000.
To qualify, applicants must be current members in good standing with the Jones County Chamber of Commerce and the building must be located in Jones County.
Applicants must have a current business license and operate a retail business, restaurant, service company or office and employ fewer than 50 people. If the applicant is not the building owner, written permission, signed and notarized, must be obtained from the building owner.
Applicants must comply with all state and local laws and regulations pertaining to licensing and permits associated with the improvements.
Applying for the grant gives the Economic Development Authority of Jones County staff permission to visit the business for evaluation. The application must be approved by the Chamber’s grant committee whose decision will be final.
Grant recipients must provide before and after photographs documenting the grant expenditures. These photographs will be provided to the Chamber and may be used without restriction to promote the grant program. Recipients must wait 365 days before applying to the program again.
To be considered, applicants must complete the Community Development Grant Program Application in its entirety. The application is available online at the Jones County Chamber of Commerce’s website.
Applications should then be submitted to the Jones County Chamber of Commerce either by email to or by U. S. Mail to P. O. Box 527, Laurel, MS  39440.