In my last post I started talking about some of the different local business grant programs municipalities use to support local entrepreneurs, helping them to grow their businesses. For the cities, the local business grants serve to retain jobs, attract new firms to the area or help local businesses to expand. In today’s post I want to take a look at several local business grant programs that are specifically designed to support businesses in the cities’ core. Here are two interesting approaches:
City of Rochester, New York: Rochester has a very aggressive financial assistance program to support local businesses and attract new firms to the area. The City’s incentives are largely limited to businesses in the industrial/high technology sectors. Rochester’s financial assistance includes business grants, business loan assistance and tax/job credits. Here is an overview of the City’s incentives that include business grants:
- Building Renovation Matching Grant Program: Provides 50/50 matching grants of up to $30,000 to qualified businesses located within or moving into the city of Rochester. Eligible projects consist of interior or exterior building renovations and/or building improvements, including security enhancements, which result in the creation and/or retention of private sector jobs.
- Main Street Assistance Program: Provides financial assistance to businesses and property owners located in the downtown Rochester area to promote investment and job creation/retention in the core area of Rochester’s Center City. Eligible projects include furniture, fixture and equipment purchases, working capital, real estate acquisition, interior and exterior building improvements and environmental remediation. Available assistance includes low interest loans up to $250,000, interest rate subsidy grants and 50/50 matching grants of up to $30,000.
- Financial Assistance Program: Provides financial assistance to new or expanding city businesses to stimulate private sector job retention and/or creation, investment within the City of Rochester and increases in the City’s tax base. Eligible projects include furniture, fixture and equipment purchases, machinery acquisition, working capital and the acquisition, construction and/or renovation of real estate. Available assistance includes low interest loans up to $250,000 and interest rate subsidy grants.
- Targeted Business Assistance Program: Provides financial assistance to targeted small businesses located within or moving into the City of Rochester which may have barriers to obtaining the capital necessary for business growth and development. Eligible projects include furniture, fixture and equipment purchases, working capital and acquisition, construction and/or renovation of real estate, and must result in the creation and/or retention of private sector jobs. Available assistance includes low interest loans up to $150,000, interest rate subsidy grants and 50/50 matching equity grants of up to $10,000.
- Pre-Development Matching Grant Program: Provides matching grants up to $25,000 to established firms/developers of industrial or large commercial projects that meet the City’s economic development goals. Program funds may be used for environmental investigations and other studies which are needed to determine the cost of redeveloping brownfields or other city sites.
Click here to learn more about the City of Rochester’s local business grant and financial assistance programs.
Spartanburg, South Carolina: Last year, the City of Spartanburg, South Carolina introduced its very successful Main Street Challenge local business grant program. The Main Street Challenge matches winning businesses with participating downtown property owners. Each winner receives $12,000 in funds from the City to be used for rental assistance for their first year of operations, along with approximately $8,000 in in-kind support and services from local businesses and sponsors. Plus, you get loyal customers and supportive downtown neighboring businesses that want to see you succeed. In return, each winning business signs a three-year lease with a property owner and must open for business in downtown Spartanburg no later than Nov. 1, 2014, in time for the holiday retail season. Four businesses were awarded Main Street Challenge grants in 2013, prompting city leaders to renew and expand the program for 2014.
Due to requests from downtown property owners, the City expanded the program to more locations on Broad, Church, Dunbar and Main streets. So far, 12 storefronts ranging in size from 1,100 square feet to 10,000 square feet are in the contest.
- The Main Street Challenge local business grant program is open to all legal U.S. residents, 18 years of age or older at the time the entry is submitted.
- Proposed business can be independent or franchise.
- For current business owners, the application must be with the intent to introduce, open and operate a concept which will offer a new element not promoted in the existing location, or expand upon and highlight an element that would be removed from the existing location.
- The applicant must be willing, and demonstrate the financial ability, to commit to a minimum 3-year lease in one of several pre-qualified locations in downtown Spartanburg.
Visit the Main Street Challenge website for more information about this local business grant program.