Bowser rolls out $500K retail grant program to rescue DC businesses

As some businesses across the D.C. region are struggling to keep their doors open, citing various reasons including crime and inflation, the District wants to support local retailers with almost half a million dollars.

In Chinatown, Flight Wine Bar and Bar Deco have closed their doors. Several others on H Street, including Brine Oyster & Seafood House, have stopped serving customers. 


Flight Wine Bar to close due to Chinatown crime and pandemic struggles

A popular D.C. wine bar has announced it’s closing its doors for good.

But with a new retail grant, Mayor Muriel Bowser and District leaders hope to keep the doors of small businesses open.

We received ours last year and that was at the time when a lot of the offices and daily lives of people were still recovering from Covid," said Suzanne Simon, the cofounder of Chaia Tacos. "We used a significant amount of money just to have our employees here daily, so we didn’t have to cut anyone."

Simon is one of several small business owners who received the $10,000 Robust Retail Citywide grant that the city offers.

"We used it for operations, and some repair items that we needed to do right after Covid that we couldn’t afford to do," Simon explained. 

Applications for this year's grants are open now, and the city's Department of Small and Local Business Development doesn’t want people to miss out; 48 businesses in the city will be awarded.

The department's Acting Director Rosemary Suggs-Evans says investing in the soul of the community is how to keep the city vibrant, and thriving.

"Our small businesses are the engine of our economy," Suggs-Evans said. "It can be used to pay utilities, to cover debt service. The mayor has always said it’s important for us to return that support."

There are several requirements that businesses must meet to qualify, including being a licensed for-profit seller, like a restaurant or clothing store, with no more than 25 employees, and they must be physically located in a brick-and-mortar commercial space in the District.

Recipients will be selected through a lottery.

"It’s a random selection but it's also ensuring that businesses in all 8 Wards will be a recipient," Suggs-Evans explained. 

Applications for the grant are available now through Monday, April 15.

For more information, click here.