(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development (DMPED) launched the application period for the District’s $15 million Retail Bridge Fund to provide competitive grants ranging between $5,000-$25,000 for retail establishments grappling with the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Retail Bridge Fund is part of The Bridge Fund, a $100 million initiative aimed at providing financial relief to the hotel, restaurant, retail, and entertainment sectors.
“Retail has been one of the hardest-hit yet most innovative sectors during this public health emergency,” said Mayor Bowser. “Businesses have implemented safety measures for customers and staff, pivoted to e-commerce technologies, and created products to meet new demand. DC residents are doing their part by shopping local and supporting their favorite small businesses during the holidays. The Bridge Fund is another way we working to help businesses make it to the other side of this pandemic.”
Earlier this year, the Council of the District of Columbia passed the “Business Support Grants Emergency Amendment Act of 2020,” which authorized up to $100 million from the federal CARES Act to provide COVID-19 related relief to businesses. In November, Mayor Bowser announced The Bridge Fund to strategically invest in businesses and employees in the hospitality, restaurant, entertainment, and retail sectors to help mitigate the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on workers and businesses. The District began accepting applications for the $30 million Hotel Bridge Fund last month, and the $35 million Restaurant Bridge Fund on December 7.
“This holiday season, we launched ShopintheDistrict.com to promote DC small businesses with local delivery by NEAR Delivery and DCToGoGo, but we know the pandemic has challenged our retail businesses,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development John Falcicchio. “Mayor Bowser launched The Bridge Fund to help retail businesses keep their employees on the job as we continue to encourage our residents to shop local, follow health and safety protocols, and get vaccinated.”
The Bowser Administration and the Washington DC Economic Partnership launched ShopintheDistrict.com, a website that makes it easier for people to find products and services at DC businesses. If you are a business and want to be considered as a featured retailer, register HERE.
The Retail Fund is a competitive grant program and grantees will be selected based on business viability, number of employees, and tenure. Eligible businesses include local brick-and-mortar retail establishments, such as bookstores, clothing stores, salons, massage establishments, art galleries, dry cleaners and fitness studios. The District is also setting aside $2.25 million (15%) of the funds for businesses that are eligible to be both a Resident-Owned Business (ROB) and a Small Business Enterprise (SBE); and one of the following: at least 51% owned by economically disadvantaged individuals, at least 51% woman-owned, or a Certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise as determined by the DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD). The grant will support general operational expenses (rent/mortgage, payroll, insurance, and/or utilities), and expenses incurred related to winterization or COVID-19 preparation.
DMPED will feature a panel discussion during its Recovery Weekly Check-In on Tuesday, December 15, at 4 pm on Channel 16 (DCN) and streaming on Twitter and Facebook. Prospective applicants are encouraged to attend an information session scheduled to take place this week. The registration link for the information sessions can be found at coronavirus.dc.gov/bridgefund. The application deadline for the Retail Bridge Fund is Friday, January 8, 2021. The Entertainment Bridge Fund will be launched in the coming weeks.
Since the COVID-19 public health emergency began in March, the District has made available more than $45 million to support small and local businesses and nonprofits through various funding opportunities, including the DC Small Business Microgrant Program, the Ward 7 and 8 Microgrant Program, the Small Business Resiliency Fund, DC Child Care Provider Relief Fund, the Legacy Business Supplemental Microgrant Program, and the Streatery Winter Ready Grant Program (in partnership with Mayor’s Office of Nightlife and Culture). For more information on the Bridge Fund, visit coronavirus.dc.gov/bridgefund.