Funding Available for Downtown Business Improvements

The city has launched a new round of funding for its Storefront Improvement Program.

The program provides direct grant funding for small businesses in the downtown for storefront improvements, focusing on lighting, awnings, and signage upgrades. The effort stems from the city’s sign ordinance which went into effect in 2019, which streamlined the process to make it more customer-friendly for businesses.

In March, the City Council approved a downtown initiative for $400,000 out of free cash to help local businesses recover from the impact of Covid-19.

“The effort will be substantially advanced if we invest in things like support for outdoor dining, another round of storefront improvements, more murals and public art and additional activities and nighttime events in the Downtown,” the City Manager Thomas Ambrosino stated at the time. 

Applicants should complete an application form and return it to the Housing and Community Development department at City Hall, Room 101 during regular business hours.

Application forms are also available on the city’s website at The forms are due by August 19 at noon. Any questions about the program can be directed to Lourdes Alvarez, the city’s Communications and Community Outreach Manager at [email protected]

The program offers direct grants, up to $10,000 to Chelsea businesses operating in the downtown area. Although applicants are not required to provide matching funds, selected recipients are responsible for covering all costs in excess of $10,000. 

Following the application phase, the city will review, evaluate, and select businesses to receive grants, in accordance with an evaluation rubric. 

Upon the award of a grant, selected recipients are responsible for carrying out the improvements specified in their application. 

Businesses are responsible for collecting all required permits prior to implementing storefront improvements.

The minimum eligibility requirements include written approval from property owners to participate in the program, commercial retail tenants must offer goods and services in locations that are open to the public, and applicants must provide a copy of city or state certificate of good standing and must not owe any outstanding taxes or fees.

The businesses must also be independently owned.

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