WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (March 11, 2019) ­– As the retail industry continues to evolve, the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) continues to introduce innovative programs and grants to help new and existing retailers succeed in the Downtown District. According to the Small Business Administration, 50 percent of new businesses fail during the first five years, but the DDA’s programs, support and other related contributing factors keep the retail and restaurant success rate in Downtown West Palm Beach at approximately 65 percent.

In a partnership with the City of West Palm Beach, the DDA is currently working with data company Motionloft to monitor and analyze pedestrian and vehicle traffic downtown.  A series of sensors were placed in the 300 block of Clematis St. one year ago to track how pedestrian flows changed during the first phase construction of the Clematis streetscape project. The program is now being expanded to introduce 16 sensors in key corridors and locations to capture statistically significant data on how people move through the Downtown area. The data is available to existing and prospective businesses to help them project traffic counts, trends and opportunities during regular business hours, and how that changes during special events and in peak season. 

In addition to collecting pedestrian traffic data, the DDA offers other valuable assistance including a business incentive grant, façade improvement funding and grand opening assistance. These programs reflect the DDA’s mission to enhance the downtown’s main street and develop more choices and destinations along neighboring streets. By encouraging major tenant improvements and significant enhancements to existing commercial spaces, the grants dramatically help the effort – both public and private — to attract a healthy mix of retailers to the area.

  • The Business Incentive Grant Program provides funding to property owners and landlords, expanding businesses, or those relocating within the DDA district to make modifications to existing Downtown buildings to raise the overall property value or bring the property up to current building codes. Through this program, the DDA encourages major tenant improvements necessary for successful tenancy of commercial spaces.  The goal is to attract the desired mix of uses to the Downtown and assist with the rehabilitation of commercial properties. The grant will cover up to 25 percent of improvement costs up to a maximum of $50,000 per project.
  • The Façade Improvement Program aids in the revitalization of the Downtown District by enhancing “curb appeal” that helps attract and retain businesses. This grant will cover up to 50 percent of the cost of exterior improvements to a maximum of $10,000 per project.
  • The Grand Opening Assistance Program helps fund a grand opening event, advertising or mailings to announce the launch of a new business. This program matches up to $1,000 in funds that are directly related to a grand opening. To qualify for the maximum $1,000 match, businesses would need to spend a minimum of $2,000. In addition to the financial support, the DDA includes new business openings in its weekly newsletter, in organic social media content and is supported by its external public relations program.

“The DDA’s assistance programs have a wide array of very valuable benefits,” said Teneka James-Feaman, associate director of the DDA. “We know a thriving business and cultural community drives job creation and retention, but it also improves the quality of life for our residents and visitors. These programs have helped to encourage private investment in the Downtown District, especially in the redevelopment sector where some of our beloved, historic buildings return to their former glory in a 21st century context.”

All programs are based on a first-come, first-served basis until funds are exhausted. Further details and applications for these incentive programs are available at http://www.downtownwpb.com/work.

About the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority The DDA is an independent taxing district with a mission to promote and enhance a safe, vibrant Downtown for residents, businesses and visitors through the strategic development of economic, social and cultural opportunities. For more information about Downtown West Palm Beach and its incentive programs, contact the DDA at (561) 833-8873 or visit downtownwpb.com.