Bricks and Clicks is an award-winning small business assistance program that is available to businesses and organizations located within downtown Harrisonburg.
The program offers:
- Support to existing downtown establishments by helping them become stronger destinations at their bricks-and-mortar locations (“Bricks”) and/or stronger online destinations (“Clicks”). Grants may include customized training, one-on-one expert assistance, or coaching to solve a challenge/leverage an opportunity and up to $5000 in grant funding.
- Support to attract new businesses to fill vacancies downtown in the form of assistance and up to $10,000 in funding.
This is a competitive application program with $140,000 in funding from Friendly City Fortune proceeds and a Virginia Dept. of Housing and Community Development Resurgence Grant.
Download a PDF preview of the application here.
Applicants are encouraged to contact HDR with questions about the program before you apply and to enquire about your eligibility and proposed ideas. Please review the program description and the application preview before contacting us.
Special Consultation Assistance Available for Culinary District Businesses
We have contracted with restaurant industry specialists to provide a special expert assistance offering to downtown culinary district businesses. Restaurants and breweries are invited to participate in a deep-dive visit with Alley Jones hospitality consulting from Richmond. Jason Alley and Michele Jones can look at back-of-house and front-of-house operations or dig into a specific topic you have in mind. Have a goal? Have a problem? Just want a tune-up? Wondering about the promotional side of the business to keep things fresh? You’ll start with a half-hour video chat, then have a three-hour on-site visit with the team, and receive follow-up information after the visit. Participants in this assistance will need to submit a questionnaire ahead of the call and be available for the on-site visit. This assistance package has a $1000 value. Participants must pay a $100 participation fee to HDR and HDR will pay $900 for each consultation. After the visit, participants can request up to $4000 for grant funds to put some of your new ideas into action! This means participants may receive a total of $5000 in consultation assistance and grant funds. Learn more about Alley Jones at alleyjones.com
How to Apply:
If you have questions about if your business is eligible or if your ideas for technical assistance or a grant are eligible, please email Andrea as soon as possible.
Review the application first to make sure you have all the information you need.
Complete your application online by 5 pm on Nov. 27, 2023.
Eligibility and Program Details
- Who is eligible to apply? Applicants must either be existing establishments in the “Main Street District” or entrepreneurs looking to open a new business downtown that aligns with business mix goals within the “Main Street District.” Home-based businesses, pop-ups, and mobile businesses are not eligible.
- Can businesses outside of the downtown district map apply? The majority of Bricks & Clicks funding comes from the Va. Dept. of Housing and Community Development and must be used within our registered downtown district. Limited funding is available to support “gateway destination businesses” located along an entry corridor to downtown within a half mile of a Main Street District boundary. These include destination-type specialty businesses.
- What characterizes an “Existing Business”? Existing establishment applicants may include nonprofit organizations and churches in addition to businesses. For simplicity, applicants and program participants are referred to as “businesses.”
- Can food trucks apply? Existing food trucks stationed downtown may apply for up to $1,500 in assistance and funding as long as they hold a lease and operate three-quarters of their time downtown.
- What will I receive as a participant? Bricks & Clicks offers two tiers of support.
- You can receive one-on-one consultations/skills building/training and a grant to put new ideas into action; or
- You can receive a grant without assistance.
- How does the assistance part of the program work and can I still get grant money, too?
Participants that wish to work with someone to get expert consultation, skills building, or training can request a specific service provider, consultant, or expert in the related field or ask HDR to help identify someone to work with. Funds will be set aside to pay for that assistance and to provide you with grant money to help you implement the guidance and recommendations that you have received. The assistance should be used to help you meet your goals, find ways to address a challenge, or take advantage of an opportunity. For example, past participants have worked with a marketing consultant to receive a marketing strategy and then applied grant money toward marketing and advertising costs. Another past participant attended an online digital marketing boot camp and then used grant money to test out their new social media marketing skills. HDR wishes to help participants “learn to fish” – when you learn new skills, you can strengthen your business and stay on the path to success. Therefore, applicants should never feel that by asking for assistance of some kind that their applicant is not as strong as those who already have a grant-funded project or initiative in mind.
- How much funding can an applicant get and how does the match work? All program participants must provide a 15% match for their grant. For example, if you receive a $5,000 grant, you must contribute at least $750 towards what you are working on. Grants to existing businesses will not exceed $5,000. Food trucks may receive up to $1,500. Grants to new businesses will not exceed $10,000.
- Are all applicants accepted into Bricks & Clicks? Applicants are not guaranteed participation in the program nor are they guaranteed the amount of funding requested. Acceptance into this program and funding allocations are based on the number of applicants and the strength of the applications. We aim to help as many applicants as possible while being able to make meaningful grants to participants.
- How does this program help businesses seeking to open a business downtown? Entrepreneurs looking to open a new business in downtown Harrisonburg are eligible for up to $10,000 if they have not signed a lease as of Nov. 1, 2023. They may be currently looking for a space or plan to start looking soon (which HDR can provide assistance with) and are prepared to sign a lease once the right commercial space is identified. Entrepreneurs who are still exploring business concepts and are not ready to open their doors will not be accepted into the program. Applicants who are actively looking to locate a business in downtown should apply for this grant now. You will be identified as a “prospect” for receiving up to $10,000 to open a business downtown. Applicants on the “Prospect List” will receive a grant after they sign a multi-year lease by Sept., 1 2024. Funds will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis and only $40,000 is available. Entrepreneurs on the Prospect List will remain on the list until funding runs out or until May 1, 2024 – whichever is sooner. If entrepreneurs on the Prospect List haven’t begun lease negotiations by May 1, 2024, we will need to convert the remaining funds to existing business grants so the grant money we received to fund this program isn’t lost. We are looking for new businesses that are:
- Experience-based businesses:
- Food-based businesses that offer an international cuisine or a unique concept that would add something new to the downtown culinary district;
- Arts- and culture-based businesses or organizations, including galleries;
- Businesses with an innovative business idea or offering not currently available in downtown Harrisonburg.
- We are especially interested in entrepreneurs who have actively received assistance in developing their business concepts, such as by participating in Harrisonburg Economic Development’s Launch Program, the Harrisonburg B-Cubed program, SCCF’s program, or SVSBDC coaching or another similar entrepreneurial support program. Existing entrepreneurs located in downtown Harrisonburg with a new business idea for a separate location are also eligible to apply.
- Applications due: Nov. 27, 2023
- Applicants notified by: Dec. 18, 2023
- Grant agreements processed: January-February 2024
- Assistance/Coaching/Training (if requested): January-May 2024
- Grant checks written: January-June 2024
- Grant-funded Projects Completed and Grantee Report 1 Due: Sept 9, 2024
- Final Report Due: January 30, 2025
Note: Applications for new business funding may be received on a rolling basis until $40,000 in earmarked new business funding runs out. If new business funds haven’t been committed by May 1, 2024, remaining funds will turn into additional grants for existing businesses.
2023-2024 Bricks & Clicks Application Preview
Section 1 (all applicants):
- Business Name:
- Your Name:
- Goals: Share your short and long-term business goals:
- Challenges and Opportunities: Are there any challenges to your business that you would like to address through this program? Are there any opportunities that you would like to take advantage of? This should align with whatever assistance or grant-funded idea you will be requesting.
- PROPOSAL/REQUEST: Describe the assistance you would like to request and/or what idea or project would you like to fund through this program? (Details about a grand-funded idea or project will be requested in subsequent questions.)
- If you are a culinary business, please indicate here what you would like to work on with Alley Jones.
- If you are an entrepreneur looking to open a new business – simply state that you seek to receive a start up grant.
- YOUR CUSTOMER: Please describe your customer.
- Business and Marketing Plans: Upload these documents if you have them.
- Indicate if you are an existing business or new business looking to open in downtown to proceed to the correct section.
Section 2 – For All Existing Businesses:
- LEASE: How much time is left on your current lease?
- FINANCIALS: Upload your Profit and Loss statements for 2022 and Year-to-date 2023 or bring a copy to HDR’s office.
- Do you have details about your grant-funded idea or project like a budget, timeline, plans, etc? If yes, you’ll be asked to share those details and documents in the next section.
If no, you have the option to share anything else about your business or request before submitting your application.
Submit Or Proceed to Next Section to Share Details about Grant-funded Idea or Project
Section 3 – For Existing Businesses with a Grant-funded Project or Idea:
- Please provide additional details about your idea/project that you have not already shared:
- How much money are you requesting:
- What is the estimated total cost of your grant-funded idea or project?
- Please outline your budget here. This may be uploaded as a supporting document instead.
- Do you have plans, drawings, and/or estimates that support your grant request? Yes or No.
- If available now, please upload supporting documents:
- Outline your timeline for completion assuming that you receive notification of a grant award the week of Dec. 11th:
- How will this project help you achieve your goals and reach your target customers?
- Is there anything else you would like to share? If no, please skip and proceed to submitting your application.Submit
Section 4: New Businesses Seeking to Open Downtown
- Briefly describe your business:
- Why do you want to open in Downtown Harrisonburg?
- How much funding are you requesting?
- Outline how you would spend this funding?
- Have you owned a business before? If yes, please briefly tell us about it.
- Did you receive assistance developing or refining your business plan or business idea? If so, please briefly explain.
Have you started looking for commercial space in Downtown Harrisonburg?
- Do you have capital, outside of this grant opportunity, to start your new business?
- If you found the right commercial space, are you ready to sign a lease by May 1, 2024 and open for business?
- Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your business idea?
Why do you ask for demographic information in the application?
There are two reasons for these questions. First, HDR would like to increase the diversity of businesses served by our organization and hopes to strengthen the support of traditionally underserved entrepreneurs. Second, we received $100,000 in grant funding from the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s Resurgence Grant program. This grant seeks to support businesses owned by women, Veterans, and individuals of color. We need to track this information for grant reporting purposes.
What will I be required to do if accepted into this program?
- Share baseline economic data (number of full-time and part-time employees, gross revenue, marketing stats)
- Sign an MOU between your business and HDR agreeing to what assistance will be provided, how grant funds can be used, and to submit two follow-up progress reports
- Engage fully with your technical assistance provider and take full advantage of the coaching or training experience
- Provide a 15% match for your grant funds that are put toward your project
- Submit two reports on time by Sept 1, 2024, and Jan 30, 2025
- Complete your assistance and projects by Sept. 1, 2024
- Share your participation in “HDR’s Bricks & Clicks small business assistance program” over your social media and credit HDR’s Bricks & Clicks program with your completed project over social media
- We would like your partnership in helping to get the word out about the Friendly City Fortune raffle during May-July 2022 as proceeds from this fundraiser fund technical assistance and grants. This can be through social media posts about the raffle on your business channels or posters in your business.