The city of St. Pete Beach will begin taking applications Friday for a new grant program aimed at helping small businesses do site improvements.

"In addition to that, we provide some help financially to get them to code," said Mayor Al Johnson. "Which is a zero-interest loan. They pay us the money back."​

What You Need To Know

  • The program offers small businesses up to $7,500 in loans or grants

  • St. Pete Beach Mayor Al Johnson says it's the first time a program like this has been offered in the area

  • Applications will be accepted from April 1 to May 13

The St. Pete Beach site improvement program offers businesses with less than 50 employees up to $7,500 in loans for making improvements that need code requirements. Some eligible projects include grease traps, ADA accessibility improvements and historic preservation compliance.

Small businesses can also apply for up to $7,500 in grant money that will pay for half of the total project. Some of the eligible projects include outdoor beautification, public art, facade improvements and signage.

"This way our small businesses, which are the mainstay of our whole island, get some help," said Johnson. "A few thousand dollars makes a huge difference to them."  

Johnson said the program fulfills one of the targets of the comprehensive plan, which is beautifying the city. The Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce has been awarded $50,000 to fund the new program, which it will administer. 

"We're working with the chamber to administer the program with us and they have their pulse on the businesses," said Johnson. "A lot of these small businesses are members of the chamber but it's open to anybody." 

The application process is open from April 1 to May 13. Johnson said it's the first time the program has been offered in area.

"I think it's unique from what I can tell," he said of the grant program. "Certainly of the barrier islands and I don't know of any other cities around right now that are doing that kind of thing.

"We've been a little beach town for over 60 years now and there's some areas that really need to be spruced up a little bit."

Business owners will find out the status of their application by mid-June.

For more information on the St. Pete Beach Business Site Improvement Program, visit the Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce website.