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Tampa Downtown Partnership Offering $5,000 Improvement Grants To Businesses

The Tampa skyline
Thomas Iacobucci
WUSF Public Media
Businesses in the downtown Tampa area can apply for the $5,000 grant until the deadline on Aug. 20.

While businesses can plan for projects costing up to $5,000, it’s not required. Projects can include anything from adding cafe tables, awnings, lighting or signage.

The Tampa Downtown Partnership is distributing grants up to $5,000 for downtown businesses to give their storefront a new look.

The money is a part of the private organization’s Storefront and Sidewalk Café Grant Program, which funds additions or renovations to a business’ exterior. The program receives its funding from an extra tax on Special Services District properties.

“It's kind of urban design theory that a beautiful, engaging, walkable downtown attracts investment and attracts people,” said Tampa Downtown Partnership Director of Marketing and Design Ashly Anderson.

“So we want to make sure that all the businesses downtown are continuing to have that high level of design and that beauty.”

Businesses must be on the ground floor in the Special Services District to be eligible.

The grant functions as a reimbursement for the costs of the business’ chosen project or renovation. Once it’s finished, they must provide proof of the project to receive funding.

“If the project numbers come in a little different than you estimated, which happens with construction or purchasing, you get back up to whatever you were awarded,” said Anderson.

Similar grants have been distributed through the program over the last nine years — but usually recipients are required to match the cost of their grant by 50%.

"We have temporarily removed the matching component of these grants due to the hardships businesses have faced during the pandemic, " Tampa Downtown Partnership President and CEO Lynda Remund said in a press release.

"Our hope is this infusion of cash will allow some businesses to make improvements or additions that they were forced to pass on because of the economic struggles of the past year and a half."

Projects can include anything from adding café tables, awnings, lighting or signage.

While businesses can plan for projects costing up to $5,000, it’s not required. Upgrades can be as simple as replacing outdoor umbrellas, according to Anderson.

“Everybody's projects are going to be different. So that's what the beauty of these is, there is no real prescription because every single need would be different,” said Anderson.

Applications must include the business’ plans for their project and its estimated cost. All applications are due by Aug. 20 and projects must be completed by the end of September.

Applications will be reviewed by a committee made up of downtown property owners, stakeholders, tenants, and city employees.

Those selected for funding will be notified by Aug. 27 and funds will be distributed after the project’s completion.

Jorgelina Manna-Rea is a WUSF Rush Family/USF Zimmerman School Digital News intern for the fall of 2021, her second straight semester with WUSF.
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