Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Mount Vernon seeks new small business and to expand existing ones with grants up to $25K

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Mount Vernon is launching a $500,000 grant program for small businesses to help local shops still rebounding from the pandemic and attract new stores to diversify shopping in the city.

Grants of up to $25,000 will be available for each business, with preference going to those that fill vacant ground-floor spaces with an array of new offerings like sporting goods and hobby shops, book and music stores, florists, upscale boutiques, art galleries, pop-up dining, coffee and tea shops, theaters, bowling alleys and even businesses that offer axe-throwing, karaoke and rage rooms.

“We want to make sure that we’re incentivizing and that we’re also supporting the build out of businesses in Mount Vernon that we don’t currently have,” Mayor Shawyn Patterson-Howard said. “Because we know that so much of our money is going to surrounding communities that have these businesses that we don’t.”

She said the city already had an abundance of discount stores and salons and barbershops, and the fact that personal-care businesses don’t pay city sales tax is one reason to focus on drawing new types of commerce.

The grants will be paid for with American Rescue Plan funds the city received and can cover construction costs for new or existing businesses and facade renovations. The grants will primarily be available to businesses in the city’s main shopping district along 4th and Gramatan avenues from 3rd Street downtown to Fleetwood, the mayor said.

Applications will be available on the city’s website beginning Tuesday and must be submitted by June 24.

They will be scored by a group of reviewers led by Robin Mack, the city’s director of business development, and the grant recipients will likely be announced by early August.

Mack said applicants will be scored for how well they manage their business and for innovation in the products and services they provide. She said a focus will be on maintaining Mount Vernon’s “urban environment with a town-like feel….where shoppers enjoy walking in where staff know them personally.”

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