Up to $3 Million Available for Businesses That Fill Vacant Downtown Locations

Many Main Street businesses have closed in recent years, leaving vacant storefronts in communities throughout the U.S. Now, some communities are launching small business grant programs to encourage more businesses to fill those spaces. One such program launched this week, along with even more opportunities for small businesses nationwide.

Washington, D.C. Downtown Recovery Grants

Washington, D.C., is currently offering grants for businesses that open new storefronts or expand their businesses using vacated downtown properties. The Downtown Recovery Grants program includes $3 million in total funds, which eligible businesses can use to cover construction, rent, and utilities. The city expects to award grants of between $200,000 and $3,000,000 to up to five businesses. To qualify for grants, businesses must lease a space in the Downtown Business Improvement District or the Golden Triangle Business Improvement District that has been vacant for at least six months.

grants for businesses that fill vacant downtown locations

Nebraska Small Business Assistance Act Program

Nebraska is dedicating $4.2 million in funds to its new Small Business Assistance Act Program. The Nebraska Department of Economic Development and Grown Nebraska Foundation will administer the program, which offers grants of up to $25,000 for new businesses and up to $12,500 for existing businesses that opened within the past five years. Businesses can use grant funds for various purposes, including startup costs, working capital, franchise fees, equipment, or renovations. To qualify, businesses must have no more than five full-time employees. Applications are being accepted now. And awards will be given on a rolling basis until funds have been exhausted.

Birmingham Penny Foundation Grants

Birmingham, Alabama, is partnering with the Penny Foundation to support small businesses located in certain neighborhoods of the city. The program includes $125,000 in total funds, with grants of between $1,000 and $2,500 available to eligible businesses. Businesses can use grant funds to cover various expenses like mortgage, rent, or building improvements. The application period is open from February 1 through 15. The winners will be announced on February 29.

Nantucket Rock Solid Grant Program

The Nantucket Island Chamber of Commerce is currently running the sixth round of its Rock Solid Grant program. Funded in part by ReMain Ventures, the chamber originally launched the program in 2020 to assist local businesses during the pandemic. The program has since expanded, awarding 87 grants worth over $433,000 over six grant cycles. This funding round aims to support a new group of businesses that want to expand or explore new opportunities. February 29 is the deadline to apply.

Innovate Alabama

Alabama is offering up to $250,000 in funding to eligible businesses through its Innovate Alabama program. Innovate Alabama started in 2020, so this is the fourth round of the program. To date, Innovate Alabama has awarded $10 million to small businesses throughout the state. The grant program is open to businesses that received federal funding through the Small Business Innovation Research Grant (SBIR) or a Small Business Technology Transfer Grant (STTR) program. Businesses that received these grants can apply for supplemental grants now through February 16.

Magic City Match

Rev Birmingham, an economic development nonprofit in Birmingham, Alabama, is accepting applications for its Magic City Match grant initiative. The program supports Black entrepreneurs looking to take their businesses to the next level. In addition to grant funds, the program offers resources to participants like free business coaching, real estate assistance, and financial education. The organization is accepting applications for the program through the end of February.

Image: Envato Elements

More in:

Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 12 years. Annie covers feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. She has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College Chicago in Journalism and Marketing Communications.