HDR is excited to announce the launch of our third Bricks & Clicks small business assistance program that offers small businesses customized, one-on-one guidance and grants. The program is designed for existing businesses as they chart their journey in building strong online and bricks-and-mortar destinations. The “bricks” part of the program can help with your physical location and “clicks” offers help with your digital presence to help you grow and become stronger online and “offline” destinations.
Through Bricks & Clicks, you will be matched with technical experts for one-on-one consultations that will identify solutions to your challenges and help you seize new opportunities. Grants up to $5,000 will be available to help you put good ideas into action. Past Bricks & Clicks participants have said the deep-dive, personalized technical assistance was an incredibly helpful step in the program and was valuable on its own even without a grant.
You may already have an idea of what you want to do or get help with or you may have a challenge or an opportunity for which you want to explore with someone. A technical assistance expert can help you fine-tune a strategy for meeting your goals or for ways you can approach completing your project or solving a problem. If you are a past Bricks & Clicks participant, if you already have a marketing plan or strategy, or if you have a project that you have researched but put on hold due to funding constraints, you can request to be “fast tracked” to the grant step. Fast tracked applicants are not guaranteed participation in the program and may be required to still receive technical assistance. Businesses that plan to receive assistance first, rather than seeking being fast tracked, will not miss a chance to get a grant at all. We plan to earmark grant funding for each participant receiving technical assistance. We have seen the power of one-on-one assistance and want as many participants in this program to benefit from the customized assistance that is available.
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. Talk to Andrea, as well, to discuss the potential of your application getting “fast tracked” to the grant portion of this program.
Review the application first to make sure you have all the information you need. You will be asked to upload a PDF of an existing marketing plan or strategy (if you have one) and your Profit & Loss statement for 2019 and year-to-date 2021.
Complete your application online by 5 pm on Nov. 29, 2021.
Each application will be reviewed by a team that includes staff from HDR, Harrisonburg Economic Development and the SVSBDC. We will use this scoring sheet.
If you are selected to participate in the program, and if you are receiving technical assistance first, you will need to let HDR know when your coaching/assistance has ended so we can send you a grant request form. We will approve those on a rolling basis until Feb., 28, 2022.
If you are selected to participate in the “fast-track” program, we will need your grant-funded project details, invoices or cost estimates, and total cost.
Please know that this is a competitive program. We have $95,000 in available funds for technical assistance costs and grants. Depending on the volume of applications, not all applicants will be selected to participate.
Eligibility and Participation Requirements
- Applicants must be existing businesses in the “Main Street District” or are a “gateway destination businesses” located along an entry corridor to downtown within a half mile of a Main Street District boundary and attract outside visitors.
- Home based businesses and start ups are not eligible.
- Participants must provide a 15% match for their grants.Grants will not exceed $5000. Allocations will be based on the integrity of proposed ideas and the total amount of money being requested. There is no match required for technical assistance or coaching.
- Participants will be required to submit baseline data and two reports on May 12, 2022 and Nov 15, 2022. Those reports will require you to share your number of employees, digital traffic stats (if applicable), customer traffic to your business, gross revenue, and answer questions that track your progress. This data will be viewed by the Bricks & Clicks team and it will also be anonymously aggregated and sent to the Virginia Dept of Housing and Community Development for grant impact measurement.
Timeline and Deadlines
Nov 29: Application deadline.
Dec 3: Committee selects participants.
Dec 5: Participants notified.
Week of Dec 6: Participants sign participation agreement and schedule meetings their coach/technical assistance provider. Grant agreements will also be sent this week for fast-tracked participants.
Feb 15: Deadline for completing technical assistance.
Feb 28: Deadline to submit your grant project proposal.
Week of March 7: Sign grant agreements and begin implementation.
May 12, 2022: Participant submits first report
Nov 15, 2022: Submit final report
Types of Eligible Challenges & Opportunities You Can Seek Help With
Bricks – Creating Stronger In-Person Destinations
- Design Issues – floor plan modification, signage improvement,
- Outdoor dining improvements
- An “Attraction” – what might attract the curious or inspire people to pull off I-81 to see or experience? People remember things like a self or photo booth and the oversized pencil at Service Stationers
- Programming – live entertainment, workshops, and other activities that attract people to your location
Clicks: Creating Stronger Online Presence
- Marketing plans or strategy, digital campaign development, content calendars
- New or improved websites
- New or improved ecommerce platforms
- High-quality photography
- Video marketing
- Launching or improving e-newsletters
- Branding and storytelling
- Learning how to use new tools – from MailChimp to Canva – so you can become self-sufficient
- Skills building bootcamps, classes or workshops
Other: Creating a Stronger Foundation
- Strategic planning, business plan development or revision, including updated your strategy to achieve new goals or growth milestones
- Setting up or improving accounting systems
- Entrepreneurship programs
Not eligible: rent, utilities, payroll, equipment, building maintenance
Projects Previously Funded by Bricks & Clicks
- PPE and interior modifications to help with public safety concerns due to COVID
- New or improved e-commerce platforms
- Digital social media campaigns
- Oversized decorations for building’s exterior to capture attention & reinforce brand
- Website and social media content development and storytelling
- Registration for entrepreneurship development and marketing bootcamp programs
- Augmented reality tool development for
- Outdoor dining patio
- Google ad words set up
- Website development and improvement
- Development of marketing plan and social media editorial calendars
- High-quality photography
- Interior design improvements & customer circulation improvements
- Museum/gallery educational signs
- Branding and logo development
Please inquire about your ideas – we want to be flexible to meet your needs. If you don’t see your idea categorized here, please just email Andrea. This is not an exhaustive list of possible areas we can support you on.
What if I have an idea for my business that isn’t listed with the examples for eligible support?
Please email Andrea before submitting an application. We want to be flexible and believe that many businesses truly know what they need best, but we also want to keep focused on creating online and bricks-and-mortar destinations for building our downtown district.
Can I get reimbursed for funds for something I already did before this program was launched?
No. This program is intended for new initiatives.
I have an idea in my head for what I want to do for my business marketing. Can I be “fast-tracked” and go directly to the grant?
Past participants and the Bricks & Clicks team feel there is a lot of value in receiving direct, customized assistance. We want to use this program to move businesses away from “throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks,” and guessing at what they should do to grow their customer base and business revenues. Having a clear strategy will help guide your business for years to come and we would rather you have more structure around your participation in this program.
If my idea isn’t related to marketing, do I need to develop a marketing plan?
Please get in touch with Andrea to discuss.
What is it with HDR and marketing plans and strategies?
One-off attempts at marketing or advertising your business will not move the needle for your operations. Occasionally spending time and money on your marketing efforts will lead to sporadic attempts at attracting customers and will not make a significant impact on your bottom line. We have also found that in the past, businesses did not understand their target customer or specific ways to reach them. Boosting a few Facebook posts isn’t enough anymore and we want you to have a strategy to guide your efforts in a way that can really help your business be sustainable and succeed.
There is a physical improvement project or design project that I have in mind, can I be fast-tracked?
Maybe, if you have a sign project or building improvement project, we would like you to share that with us first and you may be directed to meet with an HDR Design Committee member. You will need to get design drawings and project estimates and send them to us before we approve a grant and disburse money.
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 $50,000 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.
If I participated in Bricks & Clicks before, can I apply for this year’s program? Will I be automatically accepted?
Yes, graduates of Bricks & Clicks can apply for this program. No, graduates will not be automatically accepted. This is a competitive program and each application will be reviewed based on its own merits. However, Bricks & Clicks was created to foster business growth and offer targeted support for businesses that have a clear trajectory for growth and expansion. Those will be categorized as high-growth businesses with significant potential for high sales volume and job retention/creation. Those applicants will be prioritized in this program.
I am just getting started as a business – can I apply for this program?
Businesses that have opened less than 10 months ago (this does not include second locations for existing businesses), home based businesses, and entrepreneurs who are just getting started are not eligible for this program, but are encouraged to contact the SVSBDC to receive start up support and coaching.We are happy to make that connection for you to get you started!
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)
- Engage fully with your technical assistance provider and take full advantage of the coaching or training experience.
- Submit two reports on time with updated economic data.
- Try to complete your grant-funded project by May 2022.
- Share your participation in “HDR’s Bricks & Clicks small business assistance program” over your social media and announce the completion of your project over your 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 fund raiser funds technical assistance and grants. This can be through social media posts about the raffle on your business channels or posters in your business.
If I receive technical assistance or coaching, am I guaranteed a grant or the full amount that I wish to request?
No. However, when we accept participants into Bricks & Clicks, we estimate the amount of money that you might need to fully fund or partially fund a project and will earmark that amount. After receiving coaching or technical assistance, you will submit a project proposal for grant funds. We will make awards as close to the earmarked funds as possible. We will also check in with your coach or technical assistance provider to ensure that you “did your homework” and were fully engaged with their assistance so we have confidence in funding your next steps. Participants are discouraged from “going through the motions” so they can apply for a grant. We truly want to build you up so you can exceed your highest potential!
When must I complete this program?
Coaching, technical assistance, and grant-funded projects must be completed by May 2022. If the timing of a campaign or project would hit after May 2022, please contact Andrea to discuss. We will accommodate these kinds of requests as best we can.
Bricks and Clicks Taskforce:
Program partners include the Shenandoah Valley Small Business Development Center; City of Harrisonburg Economic Development; the James Madison University Professional & Continuing Education Department; and a team of local marketing consultants, web design firms, and architects. A volunteer team will review small business applications, discuss the best approach to meeting their needs, match applicants with technical assistance providers to identify solutions, and award grants.
This program is made possible by proceeds from the Friendly City Fortune Raffle and a Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development Resurgence Grant.