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Allentown Businesses Could Win $15,000 Under New Program

By Colin McEvoy on March 21, 2016

If you’re a small business looking to grow in downtown Allentown, you could win $15,000.

Under a new program called Retail Mosaic, up to 10 entrepreneurs will be selected to receive $15,000 in forgivable loans to help purchase equipment for their new businesses.

“The Retail Mosaic is a collaborative effort on the part of a number of committed partners,” said Miriam Huertas, senior vice prseident of Allentown initiative at the Greater Lehigh Valley Chamber of Commerce. “This is a chance to reactivate underutilized properties and increase opportunities for area residents to find employment.”

Applications are currently being accepted. Business plans that are selected will reach round two, and up to ten winners will be chosen from that pool. The top competitors will deliver their “business plan pitch” to a group of judges.

The winners will receive professional assistance in addition to the $15,000, including some reduced rates and pro bono services, such as attorneys, architects, and accountants.

“We’re looking for people who are ready to make the move,” said Santo Napoli, owner of Assembly 88, The Archive, and New York Urban, all of which are located in downtown Allentown. “There are a lot of entrepreneurs out there who might be working in jobs they don’t want to be at. This is an opportunity to get off the sidelines. We’re ready to help get your business started.”

Businesses must be located within the Upside Allentown Area to be eligible. Applicants must submit a complete business plan, create a minimum of two low-moderate income jobs over the next three years, and meet other application requirements described on the program’s website.

The Upside Allentown Area includes Jordan Heights, Old Fairgrounds, Seventh Street District, Old Allentown Historic District, Allentown Promise Neighborhood, and the Hamilton District.

Program coordinators put together an up to date list of readily available, appropriately zoned spaces between 800 and 2,000 square feet, and can help connect entrepreneurs with the owners. The properties have been strategically grouped together to ensure the most pedestrian traffic possible.

Retail Mosaic is the result of a partnership between Upside Allentown, the city of Allentown, the Hamilton District Main Street Program, the 7th Street Main Street program, the Allentown Chamber of Commerce, the Rising Tide Community Loan Fund, the Community Action Development Corporation of Allentown, and the downtown Allentown business community.

“In my entire professional career covering more than 20 years in two states, I have never witnessed a group of business and community leaders give so generously of their time and talent,” said Bernadette DeBias, Allentown business development manager.

“Organizations that weren’t even directly involved lent their expertise,” DeBias said. “The development of this program has resulted in not only a great product, but a selfless cohesion of people and businesses, because they believe in it, and Allentown.”

Interested persons with questions on the application process can email [email protected].

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