West Palm Beach business owners report surge in downtown economic growth

'We're seeing a lot of new investment from outside of this region,' Raphael Clemente says
Posted at 1:51 PM, Sep 14, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority said there is a business boom in the downtown area.

The area is capitalizing on an influx of new residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're seeing a lot of new investment from outside of this region come into the downtown area and purchase existing buildings and offices and set plans to renovate them and update them," said Raphael Clemente, the executive director of the Downtown Development Authority.

Some small business owners are reporting exponential growth over the last two seasons after sluggish sales in 2020.

"Clematis Street used to be so quiet, and now there's so much energy with a lot of new people in the neighborhood," said Denise Hull, owner of D is for Dog, Inc. "At the end of [last] December, I had 1,000 clients and now we have another 800."

Hull believes the time is right to expand her footprint in the downtown district.

"There's so many people moving to the area," Hull said. "There's such an influx of people from all over the country."

She recently opened a second storefront on South Dixie Highway called D is for Design.

The collaborative boutique allows other small business owners to have a brick-and-mortar location while sharing overhead expenses.

"I just saw a need and decided to take a big chance and risk and jump in with two feet," Hull said.

D is for Design houses additional merchants including Mint Palm Beach and Gypsy.

The West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority is also encouraging small business owners to consider the following grant options available:

1. Façade Improvement
Grants up to $10,000 to business owners or property owners for up to 50 percent of the cost of exterior improvements made to the building façade in the areas visible from the adjacent street or other streets within the eligible area, and for awnings, signs, landscaping and other similar façade improvements.
Click here to apply

2. Grand Opening Assistance
Reimbursement of up to $1,000 toward expenses that are directly related to the grand opening.
Click here to apply

3. Business Incentive Grant
Funding of up to $50,000 to new businesses or existing businesses within the DDA District to assist with significant, permanent modifications to existing downtown buildings.
Click here to apply

Click here for more information.