The DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) held its first annual Access to Capital event on Thursday, September 27, 2018 outside of MLK Deli in Ward 8. During the Access to Capital event, Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie and Councilmember Trayon White provided opening remarks; DSLBD Director Kristi Whitfield announced the release of $1.9 Million in funds in FY18 and a new round of funds to be released in FY19 to support local business development. With over 100 small business owners and lenders in attendance, Director Whitfield presented signature checks on behalf of the Bowser Administration to FY18 grantees and loan recipients.
In FY18, The Bowser Administration released nearly $2 million in funds awarded to local businesses and area organizations that will support the growth and development of small businesses, with more than half of the funds dedicated to business development focused in Wards 7 and 8.
“We are proud that Washington, DC is a place where small and local businesses can open, grow, and thrive, and we are committed to ensuring that entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and in every neighborhood have access to the supports they need to succeed,” said Mayor Bowser. “With these funds, we’re building pathways to the middle class by investing in innovative solutions to long-standing gaps in opportunity and resources.”
The DC Department of Small and Local Business Development (DSLBD) awarded $300,000 in grant funding through the 2018 Emerging Business District Grant to the Historic DuPont Circle Main Streets, H Street Main Street, Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, Mid-City Business Improvement District (BID) (working through Barracks Row Main Street), North Capitol Main Street, Rhode Island Avenue Main Street, Shaw Main Streets, and Tenleytown Main Street. Emerging Business District grantees may use the funding for economic research, community or business outreach, and collecting petitions in the process of forming a BID.
In Wards 7 and 8, DSLBD awarded $125,000 in grant funding to 17 resident-owned microbusinesses to support business development and growth. In addition, a total of $770,000 in grants were awarded through the Ward 8 Grocery Grant, Ward 8 Equitable Food Incubator Grant, and the Grown in DC pilot program to support hyper-local, small food retail. These grants highlight and support ecosystem development for healthy, local food options for DC residents. Based on the total available funding for the Ward 8 Grocery Grant, grant recipients include the Capital Area Food Bank, Community Connections, and Good Food Markets. Ward 8 Equitable Food Incubators Grant recipients include Dreaming Out Loud and the Washington Business Group. The Grown in DC pilot program supports cottage food, farmers markets, and small food retailers with programming provided by Congress Heights Community Development Corporation and Dreaming Out Loud.
“Given that half of the food deserts in DC are located in Ward 8, I have been focused on finding creative ways to expand access to food since I was sworn in as a Councilmember. For far too long, residents have had to take multiple bus rides and long walks for fresh, healthy food. I was pleased to work to find the dollars to expand food access in last year’s budget. I am even more excited that the Department of Small and Local Business development has used the dollars to fund some exciting initiatives to give Ward 8 residents more options for purchasing fresh food. I look forward to working with the awardees to ensure their success going forward,” said Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White.
Through the District Capitalized Loan Program, DSLBD awarded $500,000 to the Washington Area Community Investment Fund (WAICF) to manage microloans for small businesses that have trouble accessing capital, with a focus on Wards 7 and 8. And through the Loan Loss Reserve Fund Grant, DSLBD awarded $200,000 in grants for collateral support to three SBA micro lenders so that they can offer $1.3M in microloans to DC businesses and DC residents who are exploring entrepreneurship and who traditional lenders may not consider or may deem at risk.
Supporting small and local businesses is a key component of the Bowser Administration’s efforts to promote pathways to the middle class and spread prosperity. Through Great Streets, the Bowser Administration has awarded more than $14 million to 274 small businesses and helped create an estimated 1,000 jobs. And through the creation of the Green Book: Small Business Enterprise (SBE) Opportunity Guide, the Administration has helped local SBEs navigate the DC Government procurement process by providing an agency-by-agency overview of SBE spending availability.