Business grant opportunity in Baltimore

The Downtown Partnership of Baltimore is seeking proposals from landlords with available space, or from artists, entrepreneurs, non-profits, and aspiring or established retailers and restaurateurs looking to temporarily set up shop in currently unused first-floor space in Downtown-area buildings.

A new Downtown Partnership program called OPERATION: Storefront aims to connect available first-floor building space with creative people who will bring that space back to life. Successful applicants to the RFP will be awarded grant money of up to $10,000 for costs associated with occupying currently unused space and operating that space, even if only on a temporary basis.

“Shops, galleries, performance space, and restaurants pull people into an area and create street-level vibrancy,” said Downtown Partnership of Baltimore president, Kirby Fowler.

“We have no idea what kinds of proposals may come in and that’s exciting,” Fowler said. “We kept the RFP open-ended to encourage creativity.”

Nationwide, the popularity of pop-up stores, and artist collaboratives has grown, and there are examples of each in Downtown Baltimore. OPERATION: Storefront will further promote the opportunities for these uses and provide budding entrepreneurs the time, guidance, and funding to turn their ideas into reality. In the process, empty spaces will become community resources.

A panel will review the entries and select those that represent the best use for any given site. Downtown Partnership staff will guide successful applicants through the build-out process by helping find the appropriate space and resources such as design or permitting assistance.

The RFPs are due by November 22, 2010 and may be downloaded at: www.GoDowntownBaltimore.com. Grants will be awarded only for projects within the 106-block Downtown Management Authority district.

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