West Palm Beach grant program aims to help small businesses thrive

Published: Sep. 15, 2023 at 10:20 AM EDT
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A new grant program aimed at helping small businesses, as well as those owned by women and minorities, is paving the path for growth in the city a midst current economic woes.

The city of West Palm Beach created the "First Steps" grant program, with the goal of offsetting ongoing challenges affecting small businesses, including inflation, supply chain issues and labor shortages.

The program follows the discontinuation of the city's Small and Minority/Woman Business COVID-19 Recovery Assistance Loan Program, which was offered in 2022.

The city said grant opportunities will be offered in four areas: marketing, inventory/equipment, property improvement and new business development.

"There's absolutely no doubt that the need is there," said Frank Hayden, the director of West Palm Beach's Office of Small, Minority-Women Business Programs. "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."

Applicants had to be certified with the city, free of any city lien encumbrances and code violations, and located within city limits. More than 230 small businesses applied for the grant and 43 were given out, totaling $500,000.

Frank Hayden, the director of West Palm Beach's Office of Small, Minority-Women Business...
Frank Hayden, the director of West Palm Beach's Office of Small, Minority-Women Business Programs, watches as Michelle Scott signs paperwork to receive a West Palm Beach grant for her Passionate Care Services business.

"I wish I could've contributed more because it's businesses like this that are having a positive impact on what needs to happen in this city," said Hayden.

For Michelle Scott, owner and CEO of Passionate Care Services, the grant means progress and a way to keep going.

"I'm really using every penny of that money," said Scott. "This money will absolutely help me with the growth of the business to continue to provide services for those in need."

Passionate Care Services teaches adults with developmental disabilities life skills to help them become more independent. Scott said she is using the grant to expand the building and double the number of participants.

"There are some families that have loved ones and they're just sitting at home and digressing," said Scott. "Nothing is stimulating them and keeping those life skills going. We are at our limit. We have a wait list right now as well. This expansion will allow me to get up to 100 participants."

Although $500,000 was given out, the Office of Small, Minority-Women Business Programs said it plans to look at other ways to help those businesses that were not given funding.

"We're going to try and figure out some creative ways to be able to make that happen," said Hayden. "I don't know what those are today, but we are going to work on them, and we are going to make that happen."

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