ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Small businesses and startups in South St. Petersburg will soon have access to grants of up to $10,000 through a new city program.

What You Need To Know

  • A  'Microfund Program' will launch in South St. Petersburg during spring 2023

  •  Existing brick-and-mortar businesses can get up to $10,000 grants

  •  A mentoring program is in place for participants 

The Microfund Program is set to launch this spring and is unlike a traditional grant program that would require the business owner to provide matching funds or something similar.

“What is different about this program is it does not require upfront funding,” explained Tracey Smith, small business liaison with the city of St. Petersburg Economic and Workforce Development. “Past programs have required matching funds, while with this program, the buy-in for the owner is the work they’ll put in with a business navigator and a business mentor.”

In this program, small business owners will create an improvement plan and be paired with a business mentor and business navigator through the city’s business development center, The Greenhouse. After working with their mentors for approximately 45 days and completing the educational portion, the small business owner will have access to up to $10,000 in grant funding.

“Each business owner’s plan will be unique and specialized for what they need to grow their business,” Smith said.

Existing brick-and-mortar businesses enrolled in the Microfund Program will have access to up to $10,000. Co-working and home-based businesses will have access to a $5,000 grant and $2,500 for startups.

The program is reserved solely for businesses in the South St. Petersburg Community Redevelopment Area (CRA), and the grants are paid for through tax increment funding gathered through city and county tax dollars.

Beth Miranda opened The Muddy Walrus Pottery in South St. Pete around three years ago. She said business owners in the area often struggle with the age and conditions of the available storefronts and the lack of traffic passing through the area.

“One of the big problems in ‘The Duces,’ as they call it, is a lot of the buildings are older. They need work,” she said. “And I think getting traffic down here is a big deal.”

Miranda said she loves having her business in South St. Pete and her neighbors make the experience special. She said she’s hoping this grant program will help bring even more potential customers to the area.

“People don’t think about coming to South St. Pete for art and food," she said. "I guess if anything it’s the advertising, the demystifying the south side. I think it gets a bad rap.”

More information on how to apply to the new Microfund Program will be available this spring on the website for St. Pete Greenhouse.