Supporting Local Businesses to Create a Vibrant & Welcoming Downtown

In 2018, Downtown Grand Rapids Inc (DGRI) launched the Retail Business Incubation Program to attract new businesses and begin filling out Downtown’s fledgling retail scene.

Flashforward 5 years, 19 businesses and $534,000 later – DGRI is now relaunching their retail support program after taking a one-year hiatus to evaluate the previous program’s effectiveness.

Why it matters: One factor in creating a vibrant and welcoming Downtown is the presence of a strong array of businesses that appeal to a wide variety of people and are owned by a diverse group of entrepreneurs.

With that in mind DGRI, working with community partners, established the following goals for the new program:

  • Diversify the retail offerings Downtown by attracting new innovative businesses.
  • Expand opportunities for underrepresented communities by prioritizing support for BIPOC- and women-owned businesses.
  • Address storefront retention by expanding support for existing businesses.
Mosby’s Popcorn (left) and Courage & Soar (Right) both received a Business Retail Innovation Grant from DGRI.

To achieve these goals DGRI now offers six tools to support the development of existing businesses and attract new, innovative concepts to Downtown, they are:

  • Retail Innovation Grant – Financial support for new storefront retail-based businesses that reimburse up to 50% of their rent for up to 18 months.
  • Window Activation Grant – Provides reimbursement to existing storefront businesses for the activation and enhancement of their storefronts during the winter months.
  • Pop-Up Marketplace Grant: This sponsorship grant is designed to support businesses that organize events to increase foot traffic and drive sales or to organizers that want to feature incubator space for small businesses during their events.
  • Collaborative Marketing Grant: This reimbursement grant is open to businesses that collaborate on marketing, branding and promotional efforts to enhance awareness of themselves and Downtown.
  • Technical Assistance Grant: This reimbursement grant is open to all businesses looking to enhance their digital presence and/or implement e-commerce tools to grow sales.
  • Downtown Enhancement Grant – This reimbursement grant offers financial support to business and covers 50% of costs related to accessibility improvements, transit infrastructure, space activation and business signage.

For more information about these and other grant opportunities please visit our business support page.

If you’d like more information on ways DGRI can support your business please contact Melvin Eledge, DGRI’s Director of Operations at


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