Small Business Grants a Boon to City

<i>Verbatim statement from city:</i>


The city's small business grants program has helped new businesses open and expand in the capital city.

In Jackson, Miss., like in cities across our nation, small businesses are at the very core of the local economy. Small businesses create jobs for Jackson's citizens. Local entrepreneurs invest in the community in which they live, making it all the more important that they succeed. It is for these very reasons that Jackson Mayor Harvey Johnson, Jr. created three very successful grant programs to benefit small businesses in the City of Jackson.

The three grant programs, the Storefront Improvement Grant (SIG), the Small Business Development Grant (SBDG), and Special Economic Development Grant (SEDG) are funded through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Program. The City of Jackson awards matching grant dollars on a competitive basis to businesses, proving much needed funds to make improvements to their facilities or purchase equipment to remain competitive and become more efficient.

"We recognized that there was a true need for funds to allow our local businesses to grow and improve, as well as entice others who might have needed a bit more assistance as part of an incentive package," said Mayor Johnson. "These grants have grown to be highly competitive and it certainly bodes well for our city because these businesses often create new jobs when they expand or purchase equipment."

Mayor Johnson created the Storefront Improvement Grant (SIG) Program in 1999. The SIG assists new and existing small business owners with exterior renovations to their buildings, such as installing lighting, windows, doors, awnings, frontal walkways, and graphics, signage attached to the facility, painting, brickwork, stucco work and siding.

In 2004, the Small Business Development Grant Program was established to assist owners with operational and technological equipment upgrades such as computers, copiers, production machinery, cash registers, and more.

This past year, the city used the Community Development Block Grant Program to create the Special Economic Development Grant. This grant program is eligible to businesses that make at least $1.5 million in facility improvements or eligible equipment purchases and create at least 30 full time jobs. The first recipient made more than $1.6 million in improvements and created more than 40 new jobs.

These matching grant programs have assisted local businesses such as grocery stores, restaurants and cafes, financial and tax services, shopping centers, and advertising agencies, to name a few.

The Storefront Improvement Grant and the Small Business Development grant offer business owners a maximum reimbursable amount of $15,000. The Special Economic Development Grant provides a maximum reimbursable amount of $50,000. Businesses also must pledge to provide a 25 percent spending match for any of the grant programs. In 2010, thirty-five (35) small businesses benefited from the grant programs. Twenty-four (24) Small Business Development Grants were awarded to area businesses totaling $295,499.62, ten (10) Storefront Improvements Grants were awarded to business totaling $89,933.60, and one Special Business Development Grant was awarded totaling $50,000. It is estimated that more than 240 new full-time jobs have been created as a direct result of these grant programs and more than 210 full time jobs have been retained.

"The funding we receive from the Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant Program is vitally important in keeping these grant programs going," said Mayor Johnson. "We implore federal decision makers to look at the jobs we have been able to create and save at the local level, as well as the success of the small businesses that have benefitted from this program. The numbers speak for themselves."

The City of Jackson has awarded nearly one million dollars to small businesses through the Community Development Block Grant Program since 1999.

Businesses interested in any of the grant programs may call 601-960-1055.


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