MILLEDGEVILLE — The Milledgeville Downtown Development Authority's BOOST initiative handed out its first grants Thursday.
Amici Italian Café, Hair Bar and Blossoms Florist all received $1,000 from the small business incentive program.
BOOST provides grant money to downtown small business owners and entrepreneurs.
Business owners are only eligible for the grant once per year. The money must go toward specific items such as a new sign, piece of equipment or marketing need.
BOOST checks are made out to the vendor or supplier assuring the money pays for the intended purchase. These three winning applicants are using local vendors for their needs.
The program currently has more than 30 BOOSTERS pledging to donate $100 twice a year, while some agreed to put forth more.
DDA Director Carlee Schulte expects the initiative to grow after this first round of grants.
“I think it's going to pick up momentum, and people are really going to be interested in it, as far as applying and being involved,” Schulte said.
Amici's award will help fund necessary roof repairs, while new downtown businesses Hair Bar and Blossoms Florist got signage assistance.
Blossoms Florist Co-owner Sabrah Braddy said she didn't really know what to expect with the grant process, but it was “easy and fair.”
“Small businesses need that extra help. We've been here a year and couldn't afford the sign yet,” she said. “I think the sign will help a lot.”
BOOSTERS surprised the winners wielding balloons and big checks.
“Downtown has welcomed us and believes in us enough to help out. It was wonderful to see that many people coming in the door and congratulating us saying they are glad we are here,” Braddy said.
Schulte said the Publishers Clearing House style show is a wonderful way to generate buzz and show the winners they are important to downtown.
“I think it brings more excitement to the BOOST program itself,” the DDA director said. “It's a way to make the winners feel love and support because not only are we handing over checks, we are making a big deal out of it.”
Amber Simmons, co-owner of Hair Bar, was glad her husband and owner Allen filled out the BOOST form saying “it's a great program to be involved in.”
A nice sign is top priority.
“That is our brand. That's what people see,” the Hair Bar owner said.
A helpful Milledgeville DDA gave these business life-changing grants the required legs. Hair Bar feels great.
“To know that everyone voted for you, that's what is so important. We are grateful,” Simmons said.
BOOST received nine applications for the inaugural round. The next quarter's applications are due by Oct. 25. Winners will be announced Nov. 18.
Aspiring BOOST recipients should read the directions carefully insuring the application is thorough and complete.
If anyone is interested in joining the investment group or has questions about BOOST, contact the Downtown Development Authority/ Milledgeville Main Street at 478-414-4014 or visit www.boostmilledgeville.com.