Grant program in West Palm Beach supports growth of small businesses

New Grant Program Boosts Small Businesses in West Palm Beach Amid Economic Challenges

In an effort to address the ongoing economic struggles faced by small businesses, particularly those owned by women and minorities, the city of West Palm Beach has launched a new grant program called “First Steps.” This program aims to provide support and opportunities for growth in the midst of inflation, supply chain disruptions, and labor shortages.

This initiative comes after the discontinuation of the city’s Small and Minority/Woman Business COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Loan Program, which was offered last year. Recognizing the pressing need for assistance, the city decided to shift its focus towards grants that target critical areas of business development.

The “First Steps” grant program will offer opportunities in four key areas: marketing, inventory/equipment, property improvement, and new business development. Frank Hayden, the director of West Palm Beach’s Office of Small, Minority-Women Business Programs, emphasized the importance of supporting businesses that have committed to the city’s growth and prosperity. He stated, “There’s absolutely no doubt that the need is there. If this city is going to grow and prosper, we have to make sure that the people who made a commitment to the city are able to grow and prosper along with us.”

To be eligible for the grants, applicants had to be certified with the city, free of any city lien encumbrances and code violations, as well as located within the city limits. The response was overwhelming, with over 230 small businesses applying for the grants. Ultimately, 43 businesses were selected and awarded a total of $500,000.

One of the grant recipients, Michelle Scott, owner and CEO of Passionate Care Services, expressed her gratitude for the funding, highlighting its positive impact on her business and the community. Scott, whose company provides life skills training for adults with developmental disabilities, plans to utilize the grant to expand her facilities and double the number of participants. She explained, “This expansion will allow me to get up to 100 participants. There are some families that have loved ones and they’re just sitting at home and digressing. Nothing is stimulating them and keeping those life skills going. We are at our limit. We have a waitlist right now as well.”

While $500,000 was disbursed to the selected businesses, the Office of Small, Minority-Women Business Programs acknowledges the need to explore additional avenues of support for those that were not granted funding. Frank Hayden stated, “We’re going to try and figure out some creative ways to be able to make that happen. I don’t know what those are today, but we are going to work on them, and we are going to make that happen.”

The launch of the “First Steps” grant program serves as a promising step towards revitalizing and sustaining small businesses in West Palm Beach during these challenging economic times. The city’s commitment to fostering growth and prosperity for all businesses, particularly those led by women and minorities, demonstrates a dedication to creating a thriving and inclusive business environment.

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