(Washington, DC) – Today, at the Downtown DC Holiday Market, the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development and the Department of Small and Local Business Development kicked off the holiday season and announced three initiatives aimed at supporting local businesses as the nation’s capital transforms into the Capital of Christmas.
“The holiday season is truly special in the District of Columbia, partly because of the unique experiences and culture our city offers,” said Mayor Bowser. “This year, we are committed to providing memorable experiences and supporting the local businesses and venues that supply our residents and visitors with the entertainment, goods and services they desire.”
The Downtown Holiday Market, which is celebrating its 17th year, is a favorite of residents and visitors and features performances by local musicians as well as a rotating cast of shopping and food vendors, including many of the District’s creative makers. Operated by the DowntownDC Business Improvement District and Diverse Markets Management, the Downtown Holiday Market continues its commitment to supporting local business and entrepreneurs in the region by providing a safe, secure, and enhanced shopping experience. The market, located on F Street NW between 7th and 9th Streets, will be open through Thursday, December 23 from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
The fast-growing neighborhoods around the Yards will also welcome back a family favorite, Enchant Christmas, which will return this year and transform Nationals Park into a winter wonderland from Friday, November 26 to Sunday, January 2. The winter wonderland experience will feature ice skating, shopping, holiday treats, Christmas lights, a Santa Claus meet and greet, a maze, and so much more. This year, families are invited to participate in a brand-new experience, “The Mischievous Elf,” where they will embark on an adventure to save Christmas and find the eight missing toys for Santa Claus to deliver in time. On Sunday, December 5, Enchant Christmas will also be hosting Spirit of DC, an evening dedicated to celebrating everything unique and wonderful about Washington, DC.
In addition to providing residents and visitors with memorable holiday experiences, Mayor Bowser and the Washington DC Economic Partnership re-launched the Shop in the District website to support local retailers during the holiday season. Shop in the District is a website and virtual shopping initiative launched in 2020 to encourage shoppers to support small local DC retailers during the pandemic and beyond. Shop in the District combines the power of a digital platform directory, a local delivery pilot, and technical assistance to support revenue generation for DC’s small businesses.
To ensure underserved businesses are able to take advantage of the Shop in the District initiative, Mayor Bowser and the Washington DC Economic Partnership will also provide minority- and women-owned businesses with free training to establish and amplify their digital presence. The training will support businesses with website development, e-commerce platform development, and digital marketing.
Mayor Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development also launched two new grant programs to support local businesses, the $8 million Arts and Entertainment Venue Relief Fund and the $4 million Commercial Property Acquisition Fund.
“Today the District continues its unparalleled commitment to supporting an equitable recovery from COVID-19 with three new programs that will fuel the recovery and growth of some of the businesses and entrepreneurs that have been hardest hit,” said John Falcicchio, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. “Shop in the District, the Arts and Entertainment Venue Relief Fund, and the Commercial Property Acquisition Fund will provide new opportunities to businesses that are vital to our dynamic city and culture.”
The Arts and Entertainment Venue Relief Fund will provide financial relief to arts and entertainment venues that have suffered at least a 30% loss of revenue during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. This is the second relief package following the FY21 Bridge Fund Venues Program dedicated to arts and entertainment venues, totaling $32.6 million in relief to support this industry’s recovery.
The Arts and Entertainment Venue Relief Fund will provide grants ranging from $10,000 - $150,000 to venues that bring audiences to their physical location for events, performances, shows, exhibitions, and concerts. Applications are now open, and businesses are encouraged to apply at bit.ly/AEVenueRelief.
Additionally, the Commercial Property Acquisition Fund will help entrepreneurs and small business owners who face barriers to accessing capital to purchase their properties. The fund will provide down payment assistance through grants up to $750,000 or 25% of the total acquisition cost, whichever is lower, to eligible businesses looking to maintain and expand their operations by acquiring commercial property in the District.
Eligible businesses include economically disadvantaged resident-owned, small businesses that have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias. The business must also be independently owned, have no more than 100 employees at the time of application submission, and generate less than $15 million in revenue. Businesses can apply here.
For more information about Shop in the District, please visit https://shopinthedistrict.com/.
For more information on The Arts and Entertainment Venue Relief Fund and The Commercial Acquisition Fund, please visit ObviouslyDC.com.