Grants

Small Business Innovation Fund

The Center City Small Business Innovation Fund is an initiative designed to spur and support innovation and adaptation by small businesses as they adapt to the new economic realities caused by the COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn. This award delves into the details of the application, outreach, and review process as well as challenges faced in the program’s implementation.

Dining Delivery Support Program

The Fort Wayne Downtown Improvement District (D.I.D.) was searching for ways to help keep downtown restaurants in business while operating within the bounds of the safety restrictions we were experiencing. This sparked an idea to partner with a local downtown delivery company Waiter on the Way to deliver for downtown restaurants with a special discount.

Downtown Strong Small Business Impact Fund

In March of 2020 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.

DOWNTOWN-A-THON

Downtown Lynchburg Association held the first ever DOWNTOWN-A-THON, a 12-hour virtual event to raise money for the Downtown Recovery Initiative. The event was broadcast live on YouTube and Facebook from 9am – 9pm, and featured video content highlighting all facets of Downtown Lynchburg – interviews with business owners and local leaders, restaurant features, music performances, non-profit profiles, and more.

Lift Up Local

Lift Up Local is comprised of three smaller projects: Expanding sidewalks, a grant program, and a downtown voucher program. This Best Practices dives into the logistics and details of each component.

Re-Start Downtown Fresno Grant Program

In the early months of the COVID emergency, Downtown Fresno businesses were facing limited re-opening after nearly 3 months of limited operations due to closed in-person retail, no in-door/ out-door dining, no events or pedestrian traffic, and no office workers. The Re-Start program aimed to assist small businesses by providing grants ranging from $1000 – $2500 that could be utilized to help alleviate some costs and help businesses re-open safely.

Small Business Disaster Relief Forgivable Loan Program

Recognizing the significant economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our local businesses, the BBCRA Board approved the creation of the Small Business Disaster Relief Forgivable Loan Program (SBDRLP) and the allocation of $1 million in program funding. Using these funds, the BBCRA provided eligible businesses a forgivable loan of up to $10,000 to offset costs associated with utility, payroll or inventory expenses.

Advancing Places: Real Estate Tools and Incentives for Investment and Attraction

For professionals in urban place management and economic development, there is a need to understand the different types of real estate tools and incentives to attract investment and businesses to your district. This session will outline the basics of tax increment financing (TIF), rebates, historic tax credits, new market tax credits, opportunity zones and various type of grants.

Advancing Places: Economic Development Foundations

Successful economic development approaches can sustain a healthy, diverse and prosperous district economy. This session will explore major trends in economic development and see which approaches local leaders and officials are utilizing in their organizations. Panelists will explore the various stages of the economic development process and explore the myriad of practices associated with successful district economies. Regardless of your experience, walk away with an updated toolbox of financing tools and economic programs to strengthen your district through development agreements, tax credit programs, revolving loan programs and redevelopment initiatives.

Project Spotlight: Activating Retail and Real Estate in Your Community

Project Downtown, the master plan for Wichita, is a 15-year community vision and blueprint for development. The plan was founded on market economics with industry experts providing sound economic forecast information for development. The second project in this presentation is the Open on Main pop-up retail initiative which seeks to increase activity on Main Street, encourage more permanent tenants in the downtown core, and allow shop owners to test retail concepts and strategies.

Bringing Innovation to Sponsorships

The most unique and successful sponsorships utilize available assets such as events, initiatives, infrastructure and more to deepen a connection with the target audiences. If a BID is innovative and nimble when developing the sponsorship strategy and activation, both the sponsor and the BID will win. A strong activation is defined by the way the brand/sponsor, assets and promotional levers are used together to drive results and tell a larger story.

Small Business Recovery

As a small business lender for more than 25 years and as a provider of economic development advisory services for more than 50 years, the National Development Council will provide a hands-on small business tutorial in two parts: what can cities do right now to get low-cost, patient capital to its small business community; and how cities can lay the groundwork for a robust small business community moving forward.

Maurice Jones Master Talk

With deep experience in both public and private sectors, Maurice A. Jones became LISC’s fourth President & CEO in 2016. He previously served as the secretary of commerce for the Commonwealth of Virginia, deputy secretary for HUD, commissioner of Virginia’s Department of Social Services, deputy chief of staff to former Virginia Governor Mark Warner and, during the Clinton administration, director of the CDFI Fund.

Looking for the Missing Middle

This session is devoted to one of our most challenging economic development topics—how to build middle-market housing in your downtown/urban community. Throughout the US, cities are struggling with this missing middle challenge. Without a solution, cities are left with high end luxury and low-end affordable housing. This panel brought together a developer, a public agency, and local planning expert to discuss middle income housing from three very different perspectives.

Innovative Approaches to Commercial Tenant Attraction and Engagement

There has been a gradual expansion of a BID’s role to influence the commercial vitality of their communities. BIDs can ill afford to sit on the sidelines and watch market forces shape its area of management and must be active change agents to ensure a desired business mix, optimal occupancy levels, and that the district is a reliable investment opportunity. Learn from three BIDs engaging different techniques and partnerships to actively recruit and attract new commercial businesses.

Pop-Up! Retail

As cities continue to grapple with storefront vacancies, short-term retail concepts are becoming essential to re-establishing the density of commercial districts and creating new, affordable business opportunities for local entrepreneurs. Find out how cities are supporting pop-up retail and dining by lowering barriers to entry for small businesses through regulatory incentives and comprehensive pop-up retail programs, with examples from California and Tennessee.

Lights, Creative Economy, Action!

Ever wonder what it takes to put on a great event that fundamentally dials up your downtown revival efforts? Hear from practitioners who are executing innovative placemaking strategies that drive economic development and engage the creative economy – both day and night.

Kate Joncas Master Talk – Baltimore 2019

Kate is currently the Director of Urban Strategy and Development for MIG. She leads strategic efforts for complex urban projects in downtowns, neighborhoods and urbanizing places. As Seattle Deputy Mayor from 2014 – 2017 she directed 32 departments, led waterfront redevelopment and Convention Center expansion, and developed a nationally recognized government performance initiative.

Susan Mernit Master Talk

Susan Mernit is a serial tech and media entrepreneur, a Tech Stars alumni and a former consultant to the Knight Foundation. She is the founder of Oakland Local, an early—and still active—hyperlocal non-profit news site with a focus on diverse community voices. Hack the Hood, a tech inclusion non-profit she co-founded, was a 2014 winner of the Google Bay Area Impact Challenge. Hack the Hood, Oakland-based non-profit, opens up the opportunity pipeline in tech for low-income young people of color.

Neighborhood 360°: Planning for the Future of New York City Commercial Districts

In order to begin the deployment of what is now known as N360°, SBS developed a strategic public-private partnership with LISC NYC and Citi Community Development, aided by technical assistance from Larisa Ortiz Associates, to develop an assessment tool and analytical framework — a “Commercial District Needs Assessment” (CDNA) — that would help SBS to engage community partners in evaluating existing conditions and identifying needs of a commercial district.

Parramore Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan

The Parramore Comprehensive Neighborhood Plan focuses on creating a healthy, sustainable, and vibrant community that prepares for the future while preserving, enhancing, and celebrating the culture and heritage of Parramore. The Plan contains the community’s vision for their neighborhoods based on a set of Healthy Community Design principles, and provides strategies with short, mid and long term action items.

Bringing Back Main Streets

A look at historically popular areas that went through an idle period, but have since seen a resurgence through a combination of means (space management, economic development, etc).

Downtown Albany Residential Development Initiative

The City of Albany began the Downtown Residential Development Initiative in 2002 with the purpose of increasing mixed-use development and adding residential units in its downtown. This was a strategic recommendation of the City of Albany’s economic development strategy “Capitalize Albany” first released in 1996. The strategy identified downtown diversification as a critical element of the City’s overall economic health and revitalization.

Retail Strategic Plan

The City of Cambridge is experiencing rapid changes in consumer purchasing habits; in particular the growth in on-line shopping that impacts traditional downtown districts. The city realized that they needed to better understand these macro trends, and needed guidance to enable city staff and leaders, as well and the business community to develop best practice policy prescriptions that could be effectively implemented by the City and embraced by the community.

Oswego, New York, DRI Strategic Investment Plan

The small city of Oswego parlayed a $10 million state grant into more than $50 million in new downtown investment. Even after years of decline, Oswego retains some important assets to build on: walkable scale, historic buildings, and a beautiful setting on the Oswego River. The city won state funding to create a plan that identified specific projects, explained how they would benefit downtown, and showed that they could attract other money.

Cultivating Entrepreneurship

As urban district professionals, we are all trying to create the foundations for growing new businesses, filling vacant spaces, and creating new jobs and vibrancy. Our expert panel will discuss how different cities and institutions are driving innovation, launching and running successful incubator spaces, and working with private and public partners to cultivate the right environment for new businesses to develop, grow and thrive.

Setting the Future of Retail Downtown

This session will demonstrate importance and necessity for business improvement organizations to provide ongoing support to the retail sector. A case study will be presented from Iowa City detailing two very different two programs: infrastructure and marketing.