Grant program in West Palm Beach helping small businesses survive

Posted at 5:15 PM, Jul 17, 2020

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A new grant program in West Palm Beach is helping dozens of local small business owners and freelance workers stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program called Project 1909 is already giving new life to a nonprofit committed to social justice. It’s where business ideas are born.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: Coronavirus | Rebound South Florida

"We are a creative incubator," said Shana Ostrovitz, executive director of the nonprofit. "We're located here in West Palm Beach, and we house everyone from start-up founders, to photographers to graphic designers."

Ostrovitz said the pandemic hurt a lot of small businesses and freelance workers.

"Whether or not a business has revenue coming in or not, which most have lost significant revenue, they’re cutting their expenses," said Ostrovitz.

Now, with help from the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority and the Knight Foundation, Project 1909 has received a $30,000 grant to hire local freelancers to help small businesses in need.

"It’s really exciting because it actually supports two businesses at the same time, so you get the freelancer who is doing the work, they are getting paid and you’re getting the business getting the work they need done," said Ostrovitz.

Inner City Innovators, a local nonprofit, said the free work couldn’t have come at a better time.

"Some web help, allowing us to create an online store to sell some of our t-shirts to create more revenue for us to support our programs," said Norman Austin, the program director for Inner City Innovators.

He said their group works to mentor young black men and works to promote racial justice initiatives.

"We live in the United States of America. There's no reason why we should not be united," said Austin.

Austin said they're also using part of the funds to start a newsletter.

"If we do not have dialogue where we can sit down with somebody that we do not look like, or someone that does not know anything that’s going on within our community, then we will never get to the underlying issue of what’s going on," said Austin.

Ostrovitz said they are working to raise another $25,000 for the grant program.

Click here to learn more about Project 1909.