Coming on the heels of numerous businesses in the City’s downtown economic hub shutting down and closing their doors, Rockville has come up with a quick solution to fix the problem – money.
Last week the City of Rockville, along with Rockville Economic Development, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to supporting business in the City, announced $430,000 for businesses in Rockville’s struggling Town Center.
The funding comes as a relief effort, as numerous business in the heart of the City have closed down recently citing expensive rent, unavailable parking for potential customers and a poor business climate within the City.
The funds the City and REDI have announced will serve as financial assistance to small- and medium-sized business in the hope of stabilizing the business climate in Rockville Town Center.
“REDI proposes this new fund to supplement the activities currently under way in terms of economic development incentives, in order to fill a gap and provide a little more support to our business community,” Rockville Deputy City Manager Jenny Kimball said during the Nov. 13 meeting, when the Mayor and Council approved the funds.
The funding will serve as a one-year pilot program to rejuvenate business in the City. As part of the pilot program, grants will be available to businesses that meet the following criteria: they are located within the City of Rockville and have fewer than 100 employees. In addition, REDI will evaluate businesses based on how they plan to invest the capital as part of the evolution process.
“Rockville continues to be welcoming and supportive of businesses. I am excited that REDI can partner with the Mayor and Council on a quick, tactical response to the changing landscape of Rockville Town Center,” said REDI Board Chair Paul Newman in a statement. “By working together, we can boost economic impact by supporting small- and medium-sized businesses in key districts. REDI is grateful to the City of Rockville for this funding, which will continue to strengthen business development in the downtown area.”
REDI’s proposal came weeks after several Rockville businesses announced that they would be shutting their doors.
Perhaps the biggest business to shut down was Dawson’s Market, located in Rockville Town Center and which served as a major anchor for business in the City. The announcement of Dawson’s closing at the end of October angered many residents, who depended on the business as a convenient grocery store that sold locally-sourced food and was environmentally-conscious.
Dawson’s announcement brought attention to a major issue in the City, that many businesses could not thrive in the heart of the City’s main business district, prompting hundreds of residents, and a few small-business owners, to vent their frustrations at a community forum about the City’s poor business climate.
The meeting prompted City Manager Rob DiSpirito to put together an 11-point plan for the City to improve the business climate, which included reducing parking fees, hiring a business-improvement liaison, re-examine the City’s regulations and increasing promotion for the arts to serve as an attraction to Rockville Town Center.
The $430,000 in funding for businesses in Rockville Town Square is the first step the Mayor and Council have taken to address the City’s poor business climate in Rockville Town Square since the community town hall in October.