Ashley He / Sun Staff Photographer

Micro-grant program started to support Downtown Ithaca businesses.

March 6, 2020

New Micro-Grant Program for Downtown Ithaca Businesses

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Micro-grants will soon bolster 10 new business endeavors to the downtown Ithaca area.

In an effort to increase the liveliness of small, local businesses, the Downtown Ithaca Alliance has implemented this program, called the Collaborative Retail Experience Grant. The first of the 10 grants will be awarded on March 6.

The grants will be “available to downtown businesses in the business improvement district,” who will each be able to apply twice, according to Kristina Thelen, DIA business outreach coordinator.

“The businesses identify up to three partners in which to plan a special event, go through the application process, and, if their application is approved, receive up to $500 of funding for their collaborative experience,” Thelen said. “It will increase the diversity of special events by getting funding up front in order to avoid the barrier of cost to plan these events.”

The Business Retention and Development Committee will then evaluate the applications and grant the funding.

Thelen pointed to local toy store Alphabet Soup’s “Spring Fairy Festival” as an example of a successful collaborative retail experience. At the event, scores of children dressed up in costumes and enjoyed free experiences at different stores.

Although not a product of this grant, the event was led by a downtown business owner with local collaborators.

Greta Perl, owner of Alphabet Soup, has since applied to CREG to expand on the work she started with her first event, hoping to further market and staff a second Spring Fair Festival.

“I think [the program] is fantastic,” Perl said. “It’s a little bit of funding, but it can really make a difference for publicity and materials. When downtown businesses work together they can really make something special.”

“There are five applicants already for this round and many people with plans to apply later this year that need to get all their information,” Thelen said. “[There’s] lots of excitement for the vibrancy this will bring to the downtown area.”