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Group to provide financial help for startup businesses

By Staff | Sep 23, 2009

The Cape Coral Community Redevelopment Agency is hoping a business assistance program will lure new businesses to the south.
Pledging $60,000 in rental assistance, it is looking for potential owners who would be interested in setting up their business within the CRA district.
It is looking for businesses that will put “feet on the street,” according to a CRA document.
The program offers to cover up to one-third of the business’ monthly rent, up to $500 per month, for a 12-month period during the first 18 months of a multi-year lease, with a maximum total of $6,000 per business.
CRA board members and staff made it clear that all applicants would be subject to a strict review process.
The rental assistance is not an “incubator program,” according to CRA Executive Director John Jacobsen.
The program is designed to help businesses that are “ready to rock ‘n’ roll,” as Jacobsen put it, and that have a clear-cut business model.
All applicants would have to pass a final approval of the board before rental assistance could be granted.
“We’re not guaranteeing a thing,” vice chairman Don Heisler said. “But we do want the opportunity to review these suggestions.”
Already offering a facade grant program, the CRA is viewing the rental assistance program with mixed opinions.
Some feel the money should be used to simply lure businesses to the south Cape, while others feel it is an opportunity to carefully reshape the district itself.
“If we’re going to incentivize a business, we want someone to come downtown not to fill a space, but to enhance what we have,” said Helen Ramey, CRA marketing director.
To qualify for the assistance program a business must:
— Be included on the list of “Targeted Business for South Cape.”
— Be in the new, CRA redevelopment area or be in operation for less than 6 months at the time the application is approved.
— Negotiate a lease of two years.
— Employ at least two full-time equivalent positions, including the business owner.
— Be in operation to receive rental subsidy.
For more information about the rental assistance program, which officially starts Oct. 1, contact the CRA office at 549-5615.