Three events showcase small businesses in Germantown, Fishtown and East Kensington.
Philadelphia, November 25, 2013– In the coming weeks, Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger will participate in series of events showcasing small businesses and neighborhood development to highlight the ways in which the City of Philadelphia supports economic development in Philadelphia. Small business development is a priority for the Nutter Administration, and this work is primarily implemented through the City’s Department of Commerce. The three events focus on recognizing the first recipient of the Department of Commerce’s new InStore forgivable loan program, promoting neighborhood shopping on Small Business Saturday and breaking ground for a brand new manufacturing facility on a large vacant parcel.
“While it is often the big deals and major developments that get the headlines, it is Philadelphia’s small business men and women who drive our economy on a daily basis, representing the vast majority of businesses in Philadelphia,” said Mayor Nutter. “Through the Department of Commerce and our partners like the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, my Administration is committed to finding new and innovative ways to provide funding to small businesses, to help them expand and grow, and to regenerate neighborhood commercial corridors throughout the city.”
Enhancing neighborhood commercial corridors through fit-out grants
The first event will be held tomorrow at 1:00 pm at Rose Petals Café and Lounge, a new sit-down restaurant located at 322 W. Chelten Avenue in Germantown. Rose Petals Café and Philly Office Retail partnered to apply for the InStore forgivable loan. The City’s $50,000 investment covered the costs of critical start-up supplies, including refrigeration units, a hood and exhaust system for the stove, new floors, shelving units, a unique copper color ceiling and more.
Jania and Desmin Daniels, the owners of Rose Petals, named the business in honor of Desmin’s late sister, Rose, who died tragically two years ago. “When my grandmother died a year later, we sharpened our resolve to not wait another minute to make the dream happen,” said Desmin Daniels, who previously worked as a teacher for the School District of Philadelphia. “The InStore program was hugely helpful in making it happen.”
The Department of Commerce launched the InStore forgivable loan program in the beginning of 2013 as a means of enhancing commercial corridors, increasing foot traffic and improving the retail mix of neighborhood commercial corridors. For several years, the Department of Commerce has offered grants for façade renovations through the Storefront Improvement Program. However, a funding option for interior improvements previously did not exist. The small business community had repeatedly requested funding for financial assistance with business start-up costs related to the interior fit-out of a commercial space (i.e. commercial stoves, refrigeration units, ADA bathroom installation, electrical work, etc.). The Department of Commerce responded with the InStore loan program, which targets new and expanding retail, food and creative businesses looking to relocate to low and moderate income neighborhoods. The forgivable loans range between $15,000 and $50,000.
“This program was developed in response to demand from our small business community,” explains Jonathan Snyder, Commerce’s Senior Program Manager overseeing the InStore loan program. “When a business is approved for an InStore loan, they must comply with guidelines and stay in business for at least five years and then the loan is forgiven – effectively becoming a grant.”
Encouraging shoppers to buy local on November 30 – “Small Business Saturday”
“Small Business Saturday” is November 30m and Mayor Nutter will visit the East Girard commercial corridor in the Fishtown neighborhood in order to highlight shopping locally. This event is part of a larger national effort sponsored by American Express. East Girard, a newly popular shopping destination, had been an underutilized commercial corridor for decades. Recent investments from funders, such as the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), PNC Bank, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the Department of Commerce, have helped transform the district into a trendy place to shop, eat and drink.
For the last 7 years, the Department of Commerce has provided funding to New Kensington Community Development Corporation (NKCDC) to support commercial corridor improvements and small business development. NKCDC has assisted dozens of businesses on the area’s main commercial strips—Frankford and Girard Avenues—to receive storefront improvement grants and financing.
“We are thrilled to have Mayor Nutter recognize that our growing commercial corridors here in Fishtown are a great place to shop and show his commitment to supporting local entrepreneurs,” said Sandy Salzman, Executive Director of NKCDC. “We hope that his actions will encourage other Philadelphians to invest in their city by shopping with locally owned businesses and for locally made goods whenever possible. It’s a great way to leverage the purchases folks already are going to make to benefit the growth and stability of our city.”
Replacing blighted vacant lots with small businesses that create new jobs
The final small business event of the Mayor’s three-pronged tour will be held on Wednesday, December 11 at 11:00 am at a longtime vacant lot on the industrial corridor of American Street in East Kensington. The lot will soon be converted into an 11,550 square foot manufacturing facility for Veyko, Inc., a Philadelphia-based metal fabrication company. The total project cost is $2.1 million, $250,000 of which comes from a grant from the American Street Empowerment Zone, overseen by the Philadelphia Department of Commerce. Veyko plans to create 15 new jobs at the new facility. The company provides design, metal fabrication and installation services to architects, designers, general contractors and homeowners. Examples of Vyko’s work include the SEPTA 8th Street Station benches and the large scale exterior artwork at Lincoln Center in New York City.
Since 1994, the City of Philadelphia has been working to improve the American Street Commercial Corridor. Investments have been made through the Philadelphia Department of Commerce and the Philadelphia Empowerment Zone’s signature program, the Neighborhood Funding Stream, to support local economic development and neighborhood revitalization. The American Street Empowerment Zone Community Trust Board, an advisory board to the City of Philadelphia, provides input on grant making in the American Street Empowerment Zone.
“Through this process, grants are being provided to support major investments in real estate development. Veyko, Inc. is one of three recent American Street Empowerment Zone Neighborhood Economic Development grants. Veyko, Inc. will receive a $250,000 grant that will support the continued revitalization of the neighborhood,” says Aiisha Herring-Miller, Senior Program Manager for Philadelphia Empowerment Zones at the Philadelphia Department of Commerce.
PIDC, the City’s economic development corporation, invested $933,000 in the Veyko Project. Marla Hamilton, Vice President of Market Development for PIDC said, “What is especially exciting is that this is a project that was approved just when the recession hit. At one point, the developers even decided to halt the project. Clearly, they have weathered the storm and come back strong. This is a great opportunity for Veyko, Inc. and a great win for the City.”
Small business as the spark for community economic development
The projects described above offer a snapshot of the Philadelphia Department of Commerce’s daily work. With the help of partners, such as PIDC, the Merchant’s Fund, local CDCs and small business technical assistance providers, the Department of Commerce offers and supports many programs, including one-on-one technical assistance for small businesses, training programs on how to start and grow a business, micro- and small-business lending, an online business support website (www.phila.gov/business), grants for storefront improvements and security cameras, and more.
In addition to providing programs that have demonstrated success like the Commercial Corridor Manager grant program and the Storefront Improvement Program, the Department of Commerce also finds innovative ways to support businesses and commercial corridors. The InStore loan program and the Commerce SafeCam Program are both pilot programs launched earlier this year that have proved popular as applications continue to be submitted for both.
“Supporting small businesses in neighborhoods across Philadelphia represents the bulk of the work of the Commerce Department,” said Alan Greenberger, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development. “We take a concierge approach to our work with business owners – we’re here to help with your needs, navigate you through the system, and provide resources to help you grow.”