By Hamzat Sani, Special to the AFRO

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser capped off DC Small Business Week by awarding grants to 53 businesses based and operating in the District. The $2,648,057.53 in grant funding was distributed to area businesses as part of the Great Streets Initiative.

In a press conference held at Fitness Snob Studios on Rhode Island Avenue – one of the fiscal year 18 grantees – Bowser noted the significance of small businesses thriving in the District.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy: they create jobs and business for DC residents and neighborhoods and help us give Washingtonians in all eight wards a fair shot,” the Mayor remarked.

Washington, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (Courtesy Photo)

Sharing the stage with Bowser were Ward 5 Councilmember and Chair of the Committee on Business and Economic Development Kenyan McDuffie, Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner, Great Street Initiative Director Sybongile Cook and owners of Fitness Snob Studio, Kim and Jason Moore.

The Great Streets Initiative is a multi-year multi-agency commercial revitalization program formed to support existing small businesses, attract new businesses, increase the District’s tax base and  create new job opportunities for residents. The initiative prioritizes 13 designated retail priority areas with five areas located in wards 7 and 8 and a majority of neighborhoods represented in historically Black locales. Priority areas include: Pennsylvania Avenue, SE; Georgia Avenue, NW; Nannie Helen Burroughs Avenue, NE; Seventh Street, NW, North Capitol Street, NW & NE; Rhode Island Avenue, NE; Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE and South Capitol Street, SE; Minnesota Avenue and Benning Road, NE and SE; Bladensburg Road, NE; Connecticut Avenue, NW; U Street – 14th Street, NW; Wisconsin Avenue, NW; H Street-Bladensburg Road, NE.

Since 2016, the Office of Deputy Mayor of Planning and Economic Development has administered the Great Streets Retail Small Business Reimbursement Grants, which are competitive grants of up to $50,000 awarded to small business owners seeking to renovate or improve their businesses. This years class of recipients represented a diverse cross section of restaurants, fitness centers and creative spaces including:

Ward 1: Habesha Market, Harrar Coffee and Roastery, Howard Deli, Johnnie’s Florist, A-List Cultivating Salon, Sticky Fingers Sweets & Eats, SWEAT DC, Paisley Fig, Patrick’s Pet Care, Picture Frame Factory Corporation, Rise Bakery, Urban Scoop

Ward 2: Imm Thai on 9th restaurant

Ward 3: Sports Performance Group Fitness

Ward 4: BBQ Bus Smokehouse, Catherine’s Kitchen, Fia’s Fabulous Finds, Freeman’s House of Styles, Gedera Market, Haute Hair, Imm Thai on Georgia, Lulabelle’s Sweet Shop, L’Enfant Florist, PRMP Brow and Beauty Studio, Sandovan Restaurant & Lounge, Three Stars Brewing Company, UMAC World Child Development, Uneeda Market

Ward 5: Calabash Tea and Tonic, Creative Grounds DC, Dudley Beauty College, Fitness Snob Studio, Fresh Cuts Barbershop, Fun It Up DMV, Gravitas NW, Jam Doung Style, Midtown Market, Number 1 Sons, Republic Cantina, Tastemakers Incubator, T&G Grocery

Ward 6: Lagree DC, Sidamo Coffee and Tea, Solid State Books

Ward 7: Capitol Wings Factory, Helen Mart, Powell Manufacturing Industries, Inc.

Ward 8: Duende District, Honfleur Limited Arts, Martin’s Foodtown, PJ’s Cut and Style Salon, Pro Cut Barbershop, Reel Brothers Enterprise

Since 2015, the Bowser administration has collectively awarded over $14 million in grants to 274 businesses creating over 1,00 jobs through the initiative. The awards announcements were part of a week full of events celebrating the District’s growing economy and thriving small business  community.

“It is fitting that we celebrate the Great Streets grantees during Small Business Week, highlighting all they do to create opportunity and drive innovation in Washington, DC,” said Mayor Bowser.