WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Following the city of West Palm Beach's First Steps Grant Program, dozens of small women and minority-owned businesses received funding to assist with growth amidst current economic woes.
The program's goal was to offset ongoing challenges affecting small businesses, including inflation, supply chain issues and labor shortages.
Applicants had to be certified with the city, free of any city lien encumbrances and code violations, and located within city limits. More than 230 small businesses applied for the grant and 43 were given out, totaling $500,000.
Love's Flowers Shop was one of those businesses that did not receive funding. In a letter to the shop, the city said Love's was denied because of a code violation, lack of certification with the city, and a missing list of equipment/inventory.
Open since 1987, owner Tammy Pietranton said she is the only flower shop left in downtown West Palm Beach.
"That says a lot," said Peitranton. "When I came here, there were a lot of florists. They can't afford to be here anymore."
She said high rent and supply chain issues have been creating growing pains at the shop.
"Prices for flowers have skyrocketed and I don't want to pass that on to my customers," said Pietranton. "It was like 30% across the board. Not only just fresh flowers but especially hard good products, vases. That hit us hard, and it's been a challenge and it's still a challenge."
This led to her applying for the grant. She is currently in the process of expanding her business and opening a second location down the block at 805 North Dixie Highway.
"I thought, 'This could help me do all the things I've been thinking about for the last 20 years," said Pietranton. "The front of the building needs all new hurricane impact windows and that's going to run about $50,000 just for the windows, so that's where [the money] would've went."
Pietranton said since being denied, she has fixed the code violation, certified her business and created the list of equipment/inventory.
Frank Hayden with the Office of Small and Minority/Women Business Programs in West Palm Beach has been working with these businesses to provide additional funding.
As far as helping Love's Flower Shop, Hayden said he wishes he would've met her earlier.
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"I think the first thing we need to do is sit down and have a dialogue and see if there is something we could do to assist her," said Hayden. "I would love to be able to help everyone who came and asked because all of these people didn't just pop up because they knew there was money out there. They have a real need and I would like to reach that, and so my next steps in making that happen is to put them in contact with organizations which might be able to assist them."
In September, Hayden said he was looking for creative ways to fund the businesses that did not receive grant money. WPTV asked him if he had found any ways yet.
"We're still working on that," said Hayden. "I'm still searching. You know how you search through all the cushions in your house to see if you find any extra pennies? We're doing all that. Because, as I said before, our effort is to ensure that businesses in the city of West Palm Beach are successful."
There are many programs small businesses can apply to for financial and technical assistance.
Some of those include:
- Pathways Capital Funding
- Small Business Administration
- Black Business Investment Corporation
- Business Development Board of Palm Beach County
- Valley National Bank
- Palm Beach County Business Loan Program
Pietranton said she plans to look into these programs.
"Absolutely," said Pietranton. "We want to help the city. We've been here for years. We just want to spread happiness and love."