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The original item was published from 2/2/2023 12:05:35 PM to 3/16/2023 12:00:01 AM.

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Posted on: February 2, 2023

[ARCHIVED] Applications Now Being Accepted for Cocoa’s UpStart Business Development Loan Program

Owners of Chef's Kitchen with members of Cocoa City Council and staff

Applications are now open for the City of Cocoa’s UpStart Business Development Loan Program. This unique program designed to promote the growth of minority owned small businesses in the City of Cocoa, is a three-year forgivable loan program which awards up to $10,000 to a new start-up business or a business looking to expand into the City of Cocoa. Applications will be accepted through March 15, 2023.

This is the second year for this program, which was prioritized by City Council and approved to increase the number of awardees for this fiscal year to a total of five new businesses. Three of those awardees must be starting a business in the City’s Diamond Square community and two can be from anywhere inside the City limits. The program is a three-year forgivable loan program where after maintaining the business in Cocoa and successful completion of the program, the loan will be forgiven.  

“This is a great opportunity to expand our business community by offering start-up capital and business mentorship through our partners at weVenture. Business and Economic Development and expansion is a priority of the Cocoa City Council as we look to continue to grow our community and expand opportunities for our diverse and unique citizens and business owners,” said Cocoa Mayor Michael C. Blake.

This program is available to minority and/or women owned small businesses to empower entrepreneurs to succeed in the City of Cocoa, attract small minority businesses to the area, contribute to the economic vitality by promoting small business, and to cultivate vibrant neighborhoods through the encouragement of diverse businesses. The program includes a collaboration with weVenture Women’s Business Center at Florida Tech to offer customized business mentorship and education through their signature Ignite 360® business mentorship program.

“This is a great opportunity where we work with small businesses to identify their very specific goals or outcomes that they would like to achieve to create sustainable business growth and then we pair them up with a team of mentors and work with them in a very structured way for about 6 months to help them achieve those goals,” said weVenture Executive Director Kathryn Rudloff. “These funds will help the businesses hone in on a business plan and identify opportunities for growth.”  

Applications are available online beginning February 1, 2023 at www.ChooseCocoa.org/Upstart. A review committee, selected by the City of Cocoa, will review all submitted applications and will be comprised of a member of the City of Cocoa’s Finance staff, a Diamond Square Community Redevelopment Area Board Member, a representative from weVenture, and an appointed community banking representative.

Awardees will be announced at a future Cocoa City Council meeting.

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