KOKOMO, Ind. (February 25, 2021) – Thanks to a grant from the state, the Greater Kokomo Downtown Association will soon be able to help budding entrepreneurs and owners of empty storefronts.

The Downtown Association was awarded $25,000 through the Taking Care of Main Street program, created to support recovery strategies related to the pandemic and its effects on local economies.

“Indiana Main Street organizations can play a big role in lifting up our small businesses,” said Indiana Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch in a press release from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs. “This funding can help ensure supportive services remain available in Hoosier communities. Investing in our small-business owners helps them work toward a sense of normalcy and through this community-driven revitalization, we can help create a better quality of place for all Hoosiers.”

Of the $25,000 awarded, $15,000 will go toward operational expenses. The Downtown Association was one of only two applicants, out of 60 across the state, to be awarded an additional $10,000, which will allow the organization to provide grants to budding entrepreneurs.

The plan is to offer $5,000 in grants to entrepreneurs to rent empty commercial properties downtown, allowing them to sell their products, demonstrate their skills and market their services in a pop-up shop. Susan Alexander, manager of the Greater Kokomo Downtown Association, said these grants will not only help those looking to kick-start their businesses, it will also help owners of vacant commercial property.

Another $5,000 will be available specifically for culinary entrepreneurs looking to utilize the commercial kitchen at the Kokomo Downtown Farmers’ Market, which will be completed later this year. This will provide a health department-certified space for culinary entrepreneurs who don’t have their own kitchens or restaurants, and their food can then be sold in the market’s dining space.

These grants will help lead to a more diversified, sustainable local economy, Alexander said in her grant application.

“…Locally grown entrepreneurs have more longevity in their space, which makes for a more stable and sustainable economy,” she wrote. “In the long-term, the creative entrepreneurs may have a successful market test within this program and pursue a longer-term lease. Or, they may learn this particular creative business idea is not viable and thus move on to one that could become a success.”

Alexander plans to offer 10 of each grant at $500 apiece. The goal, she wrote, is to see more creative entrepreneurs opening businesses in the community.

“These grants make it so that the Downtown Association can continue to support the heart of the community and restore it to a place of thriving stability,” Alexander said. “We’re continuing to build on the momentum we gained prior to the pandemic.”

Charlie Sparks, Alliance president & CEO, said these grants are a reflection of the Downtown Association’s commitment to Kokomo.

“We appreciate this support from the State of Indiana for our programs and operations,” Sparks said. “This funding represents an acknowledgement of the strong commitment our staff and volunteers have for building a stronger community.”

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