If you feel pigeonholed into accessing extra capital from a bank or alternative small business lender, then think again. Small businesses often overlook a range of grants on offer which can help them improve their shopfront without incurring further debt.
In the inner-city suburb of Redfern, customers are lining up outside the glass-front doors of an artigianale gelateria for mouth-watering treats, thanks in part to a City of Sydney business improvement grant.
Ciccone & Sons Gelateria has become a presence beyond the street via its appealing new shopfront on Regent Street.
Co-founder Mark Megahey worked for nearly 20 years as an award-winning gelato chef for Leichhardt landmark Bar Italia before joining business partner Sean O’Brien on a trip to Italy for a gelato fair and returning with a new business plan.
The pair have just celebrated one year of business at Ciccone & Sons, and say the City’s grant has helped their business become a local and national sensation.
“While negotiating lease conditions with the property owners a year ago, we became aware of a shopfront improvement grant that had been approved but not yet used at the property,” said O’Brien.
“We were able to replace the store’s roller shutters with glass windows and noticed a significant improvement in business the week after the new doors were fitted. People were able to spot the store from the opposite side of the road and from inside their cars when driving past.”
“With a glass-fronted shop, we are also able to trade in all sorts of weather conditions – the roller door did not make this possible, especially in the middle of winter.”
“We’ve found our first year of business to be quite successful. We keep busy with lines out the door from visitors all over the state, and have built strong relationships with people and businesses in the area.”
The Ciccone & Sons Gelateria partners are now looking for new ways to grow their business over the next year, with plans that include new flavour offerings, extended hours, catering opportunities and other products to complement to their already famous gelato.
City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone said the City has been supporting local businesses like Ciccone & Sons through its matching grants program since 2007.
“Ciccone & Sons is a great example of how the City’s business improvement grants can boost local enterprises and create more lively and inviting neighbourhoods,” said Barone.
“In the last financial year, the City awarded more than 400 grants worth a total of $13 million in cash and in-kind to support economic and cultural development, community services and environmental initiatives.
“Our matching grants program aims to strengthen Sydney’s competitiveness, improve productivity and capacity, and promote business opportunities.
“There has never been a better time to apply for a grant with the City. We’ve overhauled the way our programs are structured, cut down the paperwork and moved the applications online. I encourage any business owner to consider applying for our business improvement grant.”
Matched funding of up to $10,000 is available for shopfront improvements across the Local Government Area (LGA).
The business improvement grants are part of a range of City initiatives to support local businesses, including:
- Business 101 seminars for small to medium businesses
- Sustainability packages to help reduce a company’s environmental impact
- Presentations by experts in various fields
- Forums that help prepare businesses for crime, such as theft and fraud
- Local area profiles for businesses looking to open in a new area
- A wide range of online tools and resources
For more information on the City’s support for business, visit: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/business
For more information on the NSW Business Chamber Business Awards, visit: cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/business/business-support/programs-and-seminars/business-awards