Mayor Welch allocates $1.35 million to support small businesses in south St. Pete

Mayor Ken Welch announced the $1.35 million South St. Petersburg CRA Microfund Program. ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Ken Welch announced the South St. Petersburg CRA Microfund Program — a new, accessible funding opportunity for businesses in the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area (CRA). More than $1.35 million will be distributed over four application rounds. […]

Mayor Welch allocates $1.35 million to support small businesses in south St. Pete
Mayor Ken Welch announced the $1.35 million South St. Petersburg CRA Microfund Program.

ST. PETERSBURG — Mayor Ken Welch announced the South St. Petersburg CRA Microfund Program — a new, accessible funding opportunity for businesses in the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area (CRA). More than $1.35 million will be distributed over four application rounds.

For the first round of funding that started May 9, $350,000 will be divided and distributed to 45 accepted applicants (five early-stage startups and 40 eligible businesses) located in south St. Pete. The application period is underway and closes Wednesday, May 31, or until maximum program numbers are met.

“Business owners can use funding from the South St. Petersburg CRA Microfund Program to make targeted improvements without providing any upfront capital or matching,” said Mayor Welch, noting that small businesses will also benefit from educational programs and training, mentoring and networking at The Greenhouse, a collaboration between the city and the St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce.

The South St. Petersburg CRA was established to promote reinvestment in housing, neighborhoods, commercial corridors, business development, workforce development and nonprofit capacity building within the district. The CRA district is approximately 7.3 square miles and almost 4,800 Acres.

The CRA includes more than 20 neighborhood and business associations and two Florida Main Street districts. The boundaries are from Fourth Street to 49th Street, Second Avenue North to 30th Avenue South.

One of the primary goals of the micro fund program is to ensure that all businesses within the CRA can take advantage of this capital access initiative — one of the hallmarks of the plan. The micro fund program has been intentionally developed and created to address the concerns of many small businesses that are unable to meet other CRA requirements.

The program, in addition to providing capital, is intended to build business acumen to develop business capacity and improve the readiness for future opportunities, which will be accomplished by using a cohort program approach.

All businesses will be required to complete a business capacity development plan, which will be unique for each participant. The business development plans will focus on finance, business planning, marketing, sales and business management.

Once the plan is complete, grant funds are then distributed. Each program participant will be paired with their business navigator to assist and support them during the business plan development process. Business mentors will be an integral part of the program.

Funding levels include:

  • Existing Brick and Mortar – $10,000
  • Existing Family Childcare – $10,000
  • Existing Home-Based Business – $5,000
  • Existing Shared Commercial Space – $5,000
  • Early-Stage Startup – $2,500

The $1.35 million invested in the South St. Petersburg CRA Microfund Program is expected to fund four cohorts of 35 to 50 businesses each round. Applications for the first call went live on Tuesday and will end May 31, or until the maximum program numbers have been met.

For this pilot launch, the current maximum will be 40 businesses, with five early-stage businesses for a total of 45. The second cohort is expected to begin this fall or winter.

Councilmember Bro. John Muhammad said small businesses are a crucial part of our economy and communities, whether they’re little shops, businesses operating on the side of the road, out of the trunks of cars or vendors at local markets. They can range from family-owned businesses to high-tech startups and everything in between.

They provide jobs and economic growth, and they helped make our communities unique and vibrant,” he said. “And when we support small businesses, we are helping to create these jobs, preserve the unique culture of our community and also helping the families who rely on the income from those businesses.”

Muhammad encourages everyone in the city to support and promote small businesses.

For more information on the South St. Petersburg CRA Microfund Program and eligibility requirements, visit www.stpete.org/microfund.