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Franklin Set for Transformation

“The city a while ago recognized that we need to increase our tax base in some way, through economic development,” said City Manager Judie Milner. “But our economic base can’t support a business on its own. We need to have something that will bring people in.”

Residents initially pinned their hopes on the revival of the Franklin Opera House, which brought entertainment and educational programming back to the building that also serves as City Hall. It has proven to be a big hit locally, but it has failed to bring large crowds from beyond the immediate area.

Along came Todd Workman with a different approach to revival: arranging for low-cost financing options that encourage business owners to purchase and invest in the old buildings, rather than to simply rent space. He created a nonprofit organization to facilitate the rehabilitation of downtown buildings and attract new businesses.

Franklin Set for Transformation

“At PermaCity Life, we recognize that encouraging property ownership as a redevelopment strategy is a unique approach which has many advantages,” Workman said.

That approach attracted the attention of the Franklin City Council, and Milner said they agreed to assist with grant-writing and other forms of funding to help Workman purchase and fix up some of the old buildings.

The Capital Regional Development Council recently awarded a $5,000 grant to PermaCity Life to help support a condominium conversion plan for three mill buildings, which will transform them into eight commercial and five residential units. The grant will allow the organization to prepare site plans, surveys, and legal documents to obtain planning board approval of the subdivision.

“We believe, with CRDC’s assistance through this grant funding, we can develop a plan that will create an ‘owner-operator’ which will create pride in ownership,” Workman said. “Favorable financing terms will likely yield debt service payments equal to or less than pro-forma rents. This will improve cash flow and encourage owners to invest in their business expansion. It’s great for the business owner and great for Franklin.”

For more information see Tom Caldwell’s report @