The initiative will provide $10,000 in grants to small neighborhood businesses in the initial grant cycle. Each grant of $1,250 will cover expenses that will help the stores remain competitive and relevant.
Eligible expenses include storefront improvements, costs associated with scaling up, marketing tools or upgraded equipment.
Businesses will also have the chance to apply for interest-free business loans of up to $10,000 through the group’s partnership with the crowdfunding platform Kiva.
For the first round of the microgrants, any business in Sunnyside is eligible to apply, not just those in the BID corridor.
“Businesses from throughout Sunnyside have been an integral part of our past marketing programming, including Taste of Sunnyside, Restaurant Week and more,” said Jaime-Faye Bean, executive director of Sunnyside Shines. “Throughout this fall, businesses throughout the larger neighborhood have been instrumental in helping us complete a thorough Commercial District Needs Assessment study so that we can better serve Sunnyside in the future.
“Opening this first round of awards to all neighborhood businesses is our way of showing appreciation for that partnership,” she added.
One award will be given to a neighborhood entrepreneur who is currently not a storefront owner, but who contributes significantly to commercial life in Sunnyside.
“The last two years we’ve started to partner extensively with neighborhood artisans and entrepreneurs, especially through our pop-up markets programming,” Bean said. “We recognize that they, too, have strategic needs and that this MicroGrant program can help them grow, thrive and contribute to a vibrant Sunnyside.”
Applications for the microgrants are now live on the Sunnyside Shines website at sunnysideshines.org/news/microgrants. They will accept applications through January 15. Awardees will be announced by February 29, and microgrant funds must be used by June 30.
Next spring, Sunnyside Shines will be launching a volunteer storefront partnership program that will enable local residents to volunteer on small storefront revitalization projects on a periodic basis, Bean said.
The microgrants program is funded by a $10,000 allocation from Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer’s office.
“Small businesses are woven into the fiber of our Queens community, and it is important we do our part to enhance opportunities for our residents,” Van Bramer said in a statement.