Grants available to Entrepreneurs in Creativity Economy

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September 14, 2017
This pilot program is funded by MassDevelopment and the City of Peabody, in collaboration with the Peabody Area Chamber of Commerce.
Lease it Local aims to activate unused commercial spaces in downtown Peabody by matching established creative professionals, entrepreneurs and aspiring businesses owners with landlords of buildings that currently have inactive first floor retail spaces in their real estate portfolios. This program is meant to be simple and flexible and we encourage aspiring business operators, landlords with prospective tenants and tenants with pre-determined locations to apply. Successful applicants will be awarded grants to pay for costs associated with occupying and operating in an inactive space, even on a temporary basis (6 months or longer). Selected applicants will also be connected with the services of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Salem State University. The SBDC provides free and confidential business advice and free or low-cost business seminars to help creative professionals, entrepreneurs and aspiring businesses owners raise capital, grow their businesses and improve the overall financial profitability of their businesses models. Participation in the SBDC program is mandatory for grant recipients.
The purpose of the Lease it Local program is to minimize the barrier of entry into the marketplace for established creative professionals, entrepreneurs and aspiring businesses owners by providing funding that makes “brick and mortar” ventures possible. Any person, group, organization or company with a destination-oriented concepts and comprehensive business plan are encouraged to apply. This program also allows said business owners an opportunity to test their market and finetune their service or product offerings. Similar programs across the country have attracted operators of unique shops, art galleries, performance spaces, food establishments, artists’ groups, design firms, reused home furnishings, clothing boutiques, among other types of businesses. Pop-up shops, food concepts, and other creative uses are also encouraged to apply.
Grant money can be used for the following purposes: (1) general liability insurance (2) utilities (3) license or permit costs (4) space buildout or fit-out costs, including fixtures (5) exterior improvements, including signage (6) promotional activities and materials (7) business start-up costs, materials, and other costs that relates to the operation of specific concepts. Any reasonable use of grant money as pertains to the start-up and operations of the tenants’ concept will be considered and will be approved based on the discretion of the selection committee. In addition to grant funding, selected applicants may be eligible to receive assistance from the Peabody Community Development Department for site selection (if applicable), business permitting, and navigating the City processes.

 Eligible locations target unused commercial units within the geographical area of the Peabody TDI District, an area roughly bound by Hardy and Upton Streets to the north, Central Street to the west, Main Street to the south and Paleologos Street to the east.
 Applicants will be judged on the following: (1) concept and quality of proposal (2) feasibility, including proposed use of funding (3) space utilization, including how well the concept specific plan would activate the space (4) applicant merit, qualifications and professional record, including previous or current business successes (5) a letter from a landlord or management company outlining the applicant’s intent to lease
To apply simply submit the following documents/information to
  1. A detailed description of the proposed business model or concept
  2. Anticipated timeframe for occupation, including hours of operation
  3. A visual representation of products or wares
  4. Resumes of each contributing member
  5. A preliminary budget for use of grant funds and private funds
Once received, applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis by the Economic Development Restructuring Committee of the Peabody Main Streets Organization, until pilot program funds are depleted.
*Project: Refresh is a storefront reactivation program modeled after a Baltimore, Maryland based program called “Operation: Storefront” that was launched in 2010 by the Downtown Baltimore Partnership and has helped fill over two dozen vacant storefronts.  
Jenna Coccimiglio, Executive Director
(978) 531-0384