Revitalization planned for Rio Dell downtown area

Mary Bullwinkel

Beacon Correspondent

Grant funding has been approved to help the city of Rio Dell expand the business community and replace vacant buildings on Wildwood Avenue with the hustle and bustle of commerce.

The Headwaters Fund has set aside a $25,000 grant for the project, contingent on the Rio Dell-Scotia Chamber of Commerce coming up with a one-to-one cash match by December of this year.

The Rio Dell City Council has approved $6,250 in its budget as a contribution to the matching funds needed, and the chamber has applied to the Humboldt Area Foundation for additional match funding. Community fundraisers are also being planned, according to Chamber of Commerce board member Nick Angeloff.

"The idea behind the Business Incubator Project is to fill the vacant business fronts along Wildwood Avenue," Angeloff said. There are currently six vacant buildings with a total of more than 15,000 square feet of available commercial space.

Earlier this year, the Chamber of Commerce, Eagle Prairie Arts District, and several local small businesses got the incubator project started by moving into the retail space at 406 Wildwood Avenue.

"The incubator will start at 406 Wildwood, (and) then move to the next vacant building, leaving behind a successful business at the old location," Angeloff said. There are also numerous local artists who display their work at that location.

The incubator project has been modeled in a way to address specific needs of downtown Rio Dell. "If one of the incubator businesses can stand alone," Angeloff said, "they can then retain their location rather than move and incur more costs. This also provides a sense of stability to clientele," he added, "by letting the business stay and the incubator move."

Angeloff said he has already seen an increase in business in the downtown area of Rio Dell. The goal is to fill vacant store fronts with successful businesses over the next six years, and there are indications it may happen more quickly. "Other businesses are moving in outside of the incubator," Angeloff said, "possibly due to renewed activity in town generated by the incubator project."

Anyone interested in making a cash donation should send it to the Rio Dell-Scotia Chamber of Commerce, 406 Wildwood Ave., Rio Dell, attention Nick Angeloff.