Knowledge Center

Downtown Strong Small Business Impact Fund

As was the case with every downtown across the country in 2020, stay-at-home orders imposed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic turned Mobile’s lively city center into a ghost town overnight. Twenty-two thousand office workers disappeared. Three-million visitors vanished. Our local retailers were shuttered. If ever there was a time to get creative, this was it. The decision was made to create a small matching grant program with an initial budget of $10,000 from our marketing account. A brand, Downtown Strong, and logo were created, and we began to promote the opportunity to our downtown businesses and non-profits. To leverage our grant, we decided to award $500 to those businesses that had the capacity to raise $1,000 on GoFundMe, the crowd-funding platform that was already offering a $500 matching grant, creating a $2,000 impact for our $500 commitment. The original goal was to provide a bit of a lifeline to 20 businesses, however our corporate community had other ideas.

As we began to publicize the opportunity and the check presentations, local corporations called to offer donations to expand the program. As the media picked up the story, more unsolicited gifts were committed. With an additional $65,000, we were able to create programs for Façade Grants, Professional Assistance Grants for legal and accounting advice, and HVAC Air Purification Grants. We also engaged an employment law attorney to give training seminars and develop a package of educational materials for restaurant operators.

Project Details

Downtown Strong Small Business Impact Fund

Downtown Mobile Alliance


Policy and Advocacy
$1000001 - $2000000