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Wishing You A Prosperous New Year

Monday, January 9, 2023
Upcoming Funding Opportunities in 2023



I always find such promise in flipping the calendar to a new year—new challenges, new possibilities, and an opportunity to reflect. This new year has already been historic, with Mayor Bowser's inauguration as DC's first three-time female mayor! And we have so much more to look forward to in the rest of 2023, so stay tuned for information from DSLBD about grants and other upcoming opportunities.  Looking back, 2022 proved to be a year like no other. Under Mayor Bowser's leadership, we celebrated spending over $1 billion with small businesses. We helped under-banked entrepreneurs gain access to capital through our DC Kiva hub and awarded $1.5 million in our inaugural Equity Impact Enterprise (EIE) grants. Additionally, our in-person District Connect conference opened up contracting opportunities for local businesses, and we launched new programming, such as our EIE Networking Event.

Below you'll find some fun highlights from 2022. These highlights were made possible by my amazing team here at DSLBD, who work daily to help District entrepreneurs survive, pivot, and thrive! I am so grateful to them for all that they do. As we turn the page to a new year, let us continue to support and lift each other up. Let us look for ways to make a positive impact on our own lives and on the lives of others. And remember, DSLBD is here to support you every step of the way.

May this new year bring us all health, happiness, and prosperity. Here's to a bright and hopeful future. Happy New Year!


Kristi C. Whitfield, Director

Department of Small and Local Business Development




In early 2022, we proudly extended this first-of-its-kind grant opportunity to the District’s Equity Impact Enterprises. The Equity Impact Enterprise Grants were created to provide additional direct support to District-based businesses that are certified as small, resident-owned, and disadvantaged.

We at DSLBD are here to work on your behalf as we balance the scales for local businesses in the name of equity and this impactful grant was an opportunity for us to continue to further Mayor Bowser’s mission of keeping local dollars local by investing in those businesses that are small, resident-owned, and disadvantaged.

Out of the $1.5M allocated for this grant, each qualified applicant received $5,000 in financial relief to assist in sustaining operations and promote overall economic resiliency as the District recovers from the effects of COVID.

When businesses are supported, they thrive. And when they succeed, they are better positioned to compete for government contracts and procurements.



The District is home to 28 Main Streets, and Director Whitfield was elated to walk the majority of those corridors and connect directly with businesses. Mayor Bowser is a champion of our commercial corridors. Under her leadership, the number of main streets has more than doubled. The Commercial Revitalization Team has worked with our Main Streets partners to enhance the vitality and strength of our small business community. A robust retail sector is critical to maintaining the vibrancy of D.C. neighborhoods. For example, the 2022 Robust Retail Citywide grant(s) supported existing DC-based retail businesses in maintaining operations and viability during the current small business crisis. In 2022, DSLBD awarded 134 small businesses. 




Mayor Bowser challenged DSLBD to continue to grow Art All Night for the amplification of the creative economy and commercial corridors. Challenge accepted! Over the course of two days, Art All Night boasted over 170,000 visitors across all 8 wards!  This year we expanded partnerships with 22 Main Streets, 4 Business Improvement Districts, and several activations with DC Public Library.   These partnerships are the catalysts for corridor revitalization by highlighting music, visual, literary, and performing arts, activating public spaces, bringing new foot traffic to small and local businesses, and ultimately increasing business sales. 


This past year, the Department of Small and Local Business Development hosted the 3rd annual District Connect event at the Martin Luther King Jr. Library. 
We were excited to bring this event back in-person.
The event was designed with local entrepreneurs in mind and to provide them with access to capital resources and contracting opportunities. 
At District Connect 2022, over 350 DC businesses had opportunities to:

Participate in matchmaking meetings with contracting staff from DC Government agencies and companies (prime contractors);

Participate in Expert Consultations with lenders;

Attend workshops on access to contracting opportunities and capital, and much more.

One-on-One meetings with key partners from DCRA and the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate

District Connect focuses on increasing access to capital and contracting opportunities for local businesses and is a part of Mayor Bowser's overall initiative of spending over a record-breaking $1 billion with Small Business Enterprises (SBEs).




DSLBD hosted the first "Women In Legacy" round table to celebrate National Women's Small Business Month in October, which allowed the Bowser Administration to celebrate, uplift, and empower local women-owned businesses in the District.
There are currently over 12 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., generating a revenue of nearly $1.8 trillion. With over 47% percent of D.C. businesses being owned by women entrepreneurs, we must encourage the support of local women-owned businesses.


Ms. Carolyn Smallwood's retirement marks the end of an era f


or the DC Department of Small & Local Business Development (DSLBD). Presidents, Mayors, Directors, and staff have come and gone over the last 16 years, but one thing has remained constant—Ms. Carolyn’s bright smile and warm energy!

Congratulations and best wishes on your next chapter. 
You will certainly be missed!


Mayor Muriel Bowser released the Small Business Enterprise (SBEs) Opportunity Guide, also known as the "Green Book" for the Fiscal Year 2023, and announced the District's most ambitious spending goal with SBEs, to date, of $1.16 billion.
"I have set a goal of spending at least $60 million more than last year’s $1.1 billion goal, and by being intentional, we are able to give more DC small business entrepreneurs a 
Fair Shot at the middle class with the power of DC Government procurement opportunities." 

-Mayor Muriel Bowser 
Year after year, Small Business Enterprises (SBEs) can utilize The Green Book to gain faster insight into potential business opportunities that align with their service offerings.  Through the Green Book, SBEs can explore opportunities based on their industry and view agency-by-agency overviews of SBE spending availability. We've captured agency spend data in easily searchable tables organized by agency, NIGP code, and more
Now, you can access planned acquisitions and growth opportunities on the go and on your desktop.


The #iBuyDC Challenge allows residents and businesses to showcase how they support the local economy every day while highlighting the local businesses they love to visit and challenge their friends and family to do the same to keep the challenge going.
When our residents shop locally, they are doing something big. We want to thank everyone who participated during the holiday season. This challenge is ongoing as we at DSLBD support small businesses 365 days a year.
You're invited to start your own challenge today because when you "shop small" or "dine small," you are doing your part to contribute to our robust economy. 



Aspiring Towards Entrepreneurship
WeAspire started in 2016 at the request of Mayor Bowser as a pilot incubator program and has grown to be an annual program that continues to empower residents to pursue wealth-building through small business creation and growth while addressing the unique challenges returning citizens face with entrepreneurship.
In FY 22, in front of more than one hundred guests, Five (5) finalists won $10,000 each to put toward their small businesses.
Today, the WeAspire program is recognized as a solution to the unique barriers many returning citizen entrepreneurs face when starting a business. Being able to address those challenges has become a national model for developing and training successful small business owners as a result.


Dream Pitch Competition
We live in a community full of gems that deserve our support more than ever. In the pursuit of providing equity to the small business community, DSLBD launched the WeAspire Grant(s) to provide business development support for micro-business growth in Wards 7 and 8.
Participants who completed the eight weeks of the Dream Pitch program were eligible to compete in the Dream Pitch Competition.
The pitch competition allows participants to highlight their businesses and knowledge gained through the program.
The 43 participants received pitch prizes ranging from $2,000 to $20,000.
By supporting the economic corridors within Wards 7 and 8, we strengthen our local economy, show support for our communities, and give hard-working small business owners the opportunity to grow and thrive beyond the pandemic.
Looking Forward to Supporting You in 2023
Starting January 11th, DSLBD will offer DC-based businesses and entrepreneurs the opportunity to meet one-on-one with staff members to provide an understanding of our programs, connect with additional services in D.C., and further develop a for-profit business. To learn more or to sign up, use the scheduling link below.
DSLBD is excited to announce that we will be accepting applications for the 2023 Dream Pitch competition starting January 23rd. 
Businesses located in wards 7 & 8 are invited to participate in a cohort-based training. Participants who complete all eight weeks of the Dream Pitch program will be eligible to compete in the Dream Pitch Competition and could win up to $10,000 in awards.
DSLBD is excited to announce that we will be accepting applications for the 2023 Robust Retail Citywide Grants January 30th.

A robust retail sector is critical to maintaining the vibrancy of DC neighborhoods and the 2023 Robust Retail grants were created to support existing DC-based retail businesses in maintaining operations and viability.