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City of Spartanburg to subsidize downtown rents

The city of Spartanburg launched a competition to recruit businesses downtown. (Photo/Liz Segrist)
The city of Spartanburg launched a competition to recruit businesses downtown.
(Photo/Liz Segrist)

By Liz Segrist
Published Dec. 12, 2012

The city of Spartanburg is launching a competition for businesses to battle for rent subsidies and fill vacant storefronts on Main Street.

Starting in January, the Main Street Challenge will help three entrepreneurs open new businesses next year by providing a cash incentive of $12,000, or $1,000 each month for the first 12 months, to be used as rent assistance in a downtown location pre-identified by the city and participating property owners.

The winners must agree to sign a three-year lease for occupancy with the property owner, who will provide a street-level storefront space on Main Street.

Details on applying have not been released. After the Main Street Challenge launches in January, a competition committee will review applications throughout the spring, narrowing the entries to 12 semifinalists and then to six finalists. Semifinalists will present detailed business plans to the selection committee, of which three will be chosen winners.

The business plans must include a financial plan, a personal resume with two references and an application for a forgivable loan. Rents should be included in the financial planning to create a realistic budget, as well as for lending purposes.

Winners will be announced in May, followed by several months of tenant and landlord upfits before move-in and operations begin.

In addition to the $12,000 incentive provided by the city, additional incentives, such as marketing assistance and printing, will be provided to each winner by local businesses who have agreed to participate.

A Spartanburg Area Small Business Development Center representative will be available for free to assist with submissions. The city of Spartanburg Economic Development staff will assist in providing other resources that may be necessary during this initial phase of the program.

“We have certain businesses in our downtown that we could build upon, and hopefully we can attract businesses that can do business with the current ones in downtown,” said Patty Bock, Spartanburg’s economic development director.

Seven Main Street properties are available through the program, ranging from 1,100 to 2,400 square feet.

“Originally, we were going to offer only three spaces for the winners to choose from. But, due to the enthusiastic response from downtown property owners, we decided to offer up to seven stores in order that the winners could have some choice and flexibility in their choices,” said Ron Thomas, the city of Spartanburg’s project developer.

The business owner will be responsible for any rent above the $1,000 provided each month, as well as utilities and operating costs. The landlord will be responsible for providing a space that’s virtually move-in ready.

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