ALX B2B Business Association Grants

AEDP Grants

Business organizations that meet program eligibility requirements are invited to apply for ALX B2B Business Association Grants to support the following activities:

  • Developing or enhancing a strategic plan with a focus on organizational capacity building and long-term sustainability
  • Creating sustainable programming to promote economic recovery and business profitability

Grant applications are open through August 29. Apply here.

Any interested applicant can email AEDP’s Economic Recovery Manager Senay Gebremedhin (gebremedhin@alexadriaecon.org) with questions or for information.

On Wednesday, July 27, AEDP hosted a webinar to provide information to potential applicants. Use the buttons below to watch the webinar on YouTube and download the presentation.

Eligibility

Existing or emerging business organizations may apply based on a geographic area (business district) in the City or if they predominately work with minority and disadvantaged business owners.

Applicants must meet all of these eligibility criteria:

  • Have members based in the City of Alexandria
  • Incorporate in the Commonwealth of Virginia (or have filed incorporation papers with the Commonwealth at the time the program application was submitted)
  • Demonstrate ability to meet the program’s required cash match
  • Have a stated mission to promote business activity in targeted geographic areas in Alexandria, VA (business district) or among women and BIPOC business owners
  • Demonstrate that funds will be used to support the organization’s long-term viability or the immediate and long-term economic recovery of their membership and/or business district

The grant is not open to:

  • Individual businesses
  • Regional business associations or organizations that do not have an Alexandria chapter or committee to implement the proposed project
  • Civic leagues, social welfare organizations, labor associations, or social and recreational associations

Allowable Activities

The program allows grant funds to be used for two purposes: organizational capacity building to support long-term sustainability and programming to promote economic recovery and business profitability.

ORGANIZATIONAL CAPACITY BUILDING

To successfully deliver long-term positive impact for their members and sustainable economic growth for their community, business associations must develop a strategic plan. A strategic plan furthers the following goals:

  • Creating an organizational vision/mission
  • Outlining an organizational structure
  • Defining programs and services
  • Developing and retaining members
  • Identifying revenue sources
  • Developing budgets, and
  • Implementing evaluation mechanisms to measure progress and address challenges

Other eligible foundational and long-term sustainability activities include:

  1. Developing foundational resources to help business associations develop transparent and robust governance structures. These resources include bylaws, a strategic plan, annual goals, and a budget.
  2. Developing informational resources / internal leadership capacity to provide ongoing, customized information to business association leaders to build their knowledge and effectiveness. Such resources include technical assistance, publications, and networking.
DEMAND-DRIVEN PROGRAMMING

Business associations with a strategic plan should focus on evaluating their strategy or exploring best practices and finding support for implementing their activities, programs, and services. These associations should focus their efforts on sustainable and demand-driven (membership-driven) activities that focus on building organizational capacity, such as:

  1. Developmental Resources: resources that build capacity within business associations by establishing programs and services
    • Build membership and ensure the long-term economic success of the organization
    • Create strategic marketing and promotional plans
  2. Financial Resources: resources needed to sustain operations and manage growth
    • Membership retention and development
    • Non-dues income
  3. Membership-Driven Programming: services and resources that business associations provide their members
    • Stakeholder solicitation to help audit existing programs/services and develop new initiatives. Stakeholder solicitation could include market research, focus group discussion, or anonymous surveys.
    • Programs and services: membership campaigns, publications, events, consulting services, community festivals, and others (76 Ideas for Programming)
      • Marketing, special events, or other costs affiliated with street closures in the City, approved in coordination with the City’s various departments, to promote economic activity
      • Design services for commercial and public access “parklets”
      • Planning and management of Virginia ABC-licensed special events
      • Marketing, special events, or other costs affiliated with the City-approved street closures on the 100 block of King Street to promote economic activity (Old Town only)

Program Requirements

All applicants must submit a detailed funding proposal (budget narrative) and budget explaining how the funds will be used and the anticipated benefit to their members and the City. All applicants will be required to provide a detailed sustainability plan as part of their application. This plan must outline the organization’s long-term vision for becoming financially sustainable and maintaining its stated vision/goals following the conclusion of the grant period.

MATCHING REQUIREMENT

A total of $500,000 is available to support grants to eligible program participants.  

The program will offer variable grants based on each applicant’s demonstrated need. Grants will not exceed $100,000. The program will require grantees to provide a 1:5 cash match ($1 match for every $5 received). No match will be required on the first $50,000 of the grant or if the total grant request is less than $50,000.

  • $1 to $50,000 = no match required
  • Anything above $50,000 requires a 20% match (1:5 cash match)
    • E.g., if requesting $60,000, the first $50,000 does not require a match. Anything above the $50,000 requires a match. In this case, the $10,000 is required to have a 1:5 cash match of $2,000. Your total program budget will be $62,000 ($60,000 from AEDP + $2,000 match).

Reporting and Tracking

  • All successful applicants will enter into a performance agreement with AEDP to manage the disbursement of funds and reporting requirements
  • The application will outline the ongoing reporting requirements that grantees must submit. Expected data includes but is not limited to: expenses incurred by the grantee, match dollars procured, results of any programs, marketing campaigns, special events, and initiatives funded through the program
  • The Economic Recovery Manager will maintain regular contact with grantees throughout the performance period, and reporting, as outlined and required in the performance agreements, will be collected and reviewed according to agreed-upon deadlines and milestones
  • Data from all the awards granted will be compiled and shared with City Council and the community to demonstrate the positive impact of this ARPA-funded program

Program Background

The B2B – Business Association Grant will fund existing or emerging business associations to support organizational capacity building, long-term sustainability, and improved programming that promotes economic prosperity. The grant aims to accelerate economic growth within business districts and among the small business community by creating robust and sustainable business associations throughout the City of Alexandria.

This grant program is supported by funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and is led by AEDP’s Economic Recovery Manager. The grant application period will be open in Summer 2022, with the award expected to be announced in Fall 2022.

Businesses organized into associations are an essential driver of business growth in any community. Their purpose is to leverage members’ and the community’s support to generate wealth for their membership and increase the vibrancy and vitality of the larger business community. Additionally, business associations play a critical role in helping business owners overcome challenges through direct business support services, information sharing, and advocacy.

However, establishing and sustaining business associations is challenging. Business associations are expected to deliver impact in their communities with limited resources and staff capacity. They are expected to maintain or increase membership, develop and deliver effective and innovative programming, and meet annual fundraising goals with limited staff or only a volunteer-based workforce.

These demands on business associations with limited funding sources impact their effectiveness and, in effect, impact the city’s economic viability and ease in retaining and expanding business growth in Alexandria.

In recognition of these challenges, AEDP developed the B2B – Business Association Grant program to encourage the strengthening and emergency of sustainable business associations in Alexandria. Additionally, program participants will receive customized technical assistance from AEDP and our partners throughout the grant period and be granted access to a regular webinar series.