Small business owners in Danville now have one more opportunity to deepen relationships with each other and the community, with funding from the town.
The town of Danville opened general business and marketing promotion applications for grants of up to $1,500 for qualified brick-and-mortar businesses on Oct. 7. Applications will remain open until all available funds are awarded, according to town economic specialist Lianna Adauto.
"We really want to be clear that this is a collaborative effort," Adauto said. "The business promotion fund is to support efforts and events that will involve and benefit multiple businesses."
This year, the town is seeking to use its business promotion funds to support and encourage local businesses to work together on creative events, marketing efforts, and experiences that can deepen ties and strengthen community engagement, as businesses and in-person events begin to resume operations following the previous year's lockdowns.
"These are small business owners that don't, especially right now with the shortage in workforce, they don't have a lot of time on their hands," Adauto said. "The focus and purpose of this is to have a collaborative effort that will highlight and really get multiple businesses involved on one project or program or event."
The town's business promotion funds are traditionally aimed at encouraging collaborative efforts and community-building between businesses. Some examples similar to what these grants are aimed to promote include Danville's Artisan Makers Expo, a "Where's Waldo" scavenger hunt involving various businesses and put forward by Rakestraw books, as well as art and wine strolls and sidewalk sales.
In the pandemic era, Adauto said she hopes to see all of the traditional features of successful past projects, but is also interested in how the wisdom and resiliency business owners have been forced to develop in order to stay afloat translate into successful applications.
"Because they've been so resilient and adaptable, we want these programs to continue that level of adaptability in engaging businesses and communities in new ways," Adauto said.
Some examples of this include the leverage of social media and online platforms, as well as the emerging trend of hybrid events. Adauto suggested in particular that advertising online could help local businesses target additional audiences and broaden their customer base. She also pointed to an important lesson learned by business owners during the pandemic: customers don't necessarily need to come to a store in person anymore.
In addition to seeking partnerships between businesses, and features such as creativity and community engagement, successful applicants should propose projects that are in keeping with the town's "Live Locally" branding, Adauto said.
However, she emphasized that this mantra should be interpreted in a broad sense.
"We recognize that we are part of the larger region," Adauto said. "We also know that there is the opportunity to have people visit. We definitely want to engage the local residential community, but we know that, guess what, some business owners don't live here."
As an example of sharing ideas between communities, Adauto pointed to Danville's presently ongoing "Scarecrow Stroll." The event invites local businesses to create unique scarecrow displays, which encourages shoppers to explore various businesses in the town in order to see the show. This year marks the second annual event in Danville, which Adauto said was inspired by the annual scarecrow contest in Benicia.
Above all, Adauto said, the most important thing for applicants to know is that successful projects must involve multiple businesses in Danville. Although she expects some returning applicants, she said that this is particularly important to emphasize for new applicants, who might not understand the purpose of the town's business promotion funds.
"This business promotion grant, even though it's not a large pot of money, we really want to encourage businesses to work together, to collaborate, to partner…to really seek each other out and be able to cross support each other and promote each other in some of these unique opportunities."
Successful applicants can receive up to $1,500 for approved projects, with up $15,000 available from the town for all recipients. Grants are reimbursable, meaning they will be provided retroactively for accepted applicants who are able to follow through with successful projects.
More information on the program, including eligibility requirements can be found here.
Danville Artisan Makers Expo (DAME) is the name of the local holiday shopping experience hosted by the town.
Rakestraw Books is the host of the "Where's Waldo" scavenger hunt.
"Live locally" is Danville's town branding.