Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant applications are open again

We know Downtown Winnipeg BIZ members need support to make it through this challenging time. To help, we are launching a second round of the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant: a services program designed to help businesses adapt and build capacity to generate revenue.

Downtown Winnipeg has plenty of experts – many of them the best in their fields. The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant connects member business that need support with member experts who can provide it.

Applications are now open. We encourage eligible members to apply soon because there are a limited number of grants available.

Not sure if the Connect Grant is right for you? Read the success stories from the grants awarded earlier this year.

Not only did this grant help my downtown business grow, but it also introduced me to another amazing downtown business. Connecting with neighbours builds the best communities.

Kelly Oxelgren, owner of 2 Kelly’s Cafe

How it works:

Applicants will select a service area where they could use some help. It could be to build capacity or adapt their business to help generate revenue or manage other challenges that COVID-19 has presented. Within two business days of applying, the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ will send an email confirming we received the application. We will then follow-up with a short phone interview to better understand the applicants’ needs.

Successful applicants will be matched with a member business that can provide the service they need. Some examples of Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant services include business and strategy development, accounting and bookkeeping, marketing, website support, legal services, human resources and online sales platform development. 

The grant is designed to build sustainability for the recipient while also supporting the member business who provides the service. Simply put, it supports two downtown businesses with one grant.

Because we are committed to an inclusive program, 20% of the grants will be allocated for BIPOC-owned (Black-, Indigenous-, person of colour-owned) businesses and 20% of the grants will be allocated for businesses owned by women.

Even businesses that have received a Connect Grant before are eligible to apply. Up to half of the grants can be awarded to eligible businesses that received a Connect Grant during the first round.

For a summary of this information, download the info sheet.

What you can expect if you receive a grant

If you are selected to receive a grant, you will be matched with a member business who can provide the services you’re looking for – your Connect Grant partner. They will contact you and you will begin working together on your project.

Some examples of what working with your Connect Grant partner could look like include the following:

  • Discovery meetings
  • Ongoing communication with you partner
  • Providing logos or other visuals specific to your business
  • Spending time brainstorming

To receive the full benefits from the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant, you can expect to spend some time working with your partner to help them better understand your business and your needs.

How to Apply

Applications can be submitted online or by filling out the PDF form.

If you prefer to fill out the PDF form, applications can be submitted by:

  • Email
  • In person at our office (426 Portage Avenue, M-F 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
  • Mail:
    Downtown Winnipeg BIZ
    426 Portage Avenue
    Winnipeg, MB R3C 0C9
  • If you’re located downtown, we can arrange for a pickup by one of our Downtown Ambassadors. To schedule a pickup, please call 204.958.7233 M-F between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Eligibility Requirements

Businesses that are eligible meet the following criteria:

  • The principal place of business must be within the Downtown Winnipeg Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) and the business must pay a Downtown Winnipeg BIZ levy. (Please check your business address to make sure it is within the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ limits). 
  • The business has less than 50 employees.
  • The business has experienced a decline in net revenues or hardship as a result of COVID-19.
  • The business is independent or locally owned (franchises are included).
  • Owner(s) have not prepared the business for closure or dissolution following March 2020. For example: 
    • Announced a permanent closure to their employees or customers
    • Held a closing-out sale
    • Listed their business for sale
  • Businesses must complete reporting during and following use of funds (e.g. sharing impact on business, follow up survey).

The following organizations are not eligible (as the program is only open to Downtown Winnipeg BIZ levy-paying members):

  • Non-profit organizations
  • Churches or religious organizations
  • Government agencies or offices
  • Residential projects

Applications will be reviewed and selected based on the following considerations:

  • Alignment with the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ mission: We promote, care and advocate for a vibrant and inclusive downtown where business thrives and people are drawn to work, live, shop and explore.
  • Ability to demonstrate a connection between the service selected and ability to sustain business operations.
  • Willingness and resources to work with their member business partner to receive the service that will help their business.
  • Contribution to the long-term sustainability of downtown:
    • ability to generate increased revenue
    • maintain/increase jobs

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions):

If you are applying for a grant, you will be looking for services that will help your business build sustainability through the COVID-19 pandemic. Types of services available include:

  • Marketing/advertising/branding/graphic design
  • Web services, including adding an online selling platform to your website
  • Finance/accounting
  • Business strategy
  • Legal services
  • Human resources

We won’t be adding any additional partners for this round of grants but we may in the future. If you’re interested in getting involved and think your downtown business could be a fit for the program, please contact us at info@downtownwinnipegbiz.com.

After you submit your application, you can expect to receive an email confirmation within two business days. If you don’t hear from us after that timeframe, feel free to follow up by emailing info@downtownwinnipegbiz.com.

No. The costs incurred for the services provided directly to you will be covered by the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant. Any ongoing costs occurring as a result of the receipt of the grant will be discussed and agreed upon before any work begins (e.g., website hosting).

The applications are open now. Limited grants are available. We will assess and close applications at a later date. We encourage you to submit your application soon.

Grant applications that meet the above requirements will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • Alignment with the Downtown Winnipeg BIZ mission: We promote, care and advocate for a vibrant and inclusive downtown where business thrives and people are drawn to work, live, shop and explore.
  • Ability to demonstrate a connection between the service selected and ability to sustain business operations.
  • Willingness and resources to work with their member business partner to receive the service that will impact their business.
  • Contribution to the long-term sustainability of downtown:
    • ability to generate increased revenue
    • maintain/increase jobs
  • 20% of the grants are allocated to BIPOC-owned businesses (business owned by someone who identifies as Black, Indigenous or a person of colour). If there are less than 20% BIPOC-owned businesses that qualify, then other qualifying businesses will be chosen.
  • 20% of the grants are allocated to women-owned businesses.  If there are less than 20% women-owned businesses that qualify, then other qualifying businesses will be chosen.

Yes. If you’ve already received a Connect Grant, you may apply again however, 50% of the grants will be allocated to businesses who have not yet received a Connect Grant.

It’s a good idea to also have your City business tax bill with your current address to verify you are a Downtown Winnipeg BIZ member.

Applications can be submitted using either the online form or a downloadable PDF form.

PDF applications can be mailed, emailed to info@downtownwinnipegbiz.com, dropped off at our office (426 Portage Avenue) or if it’s within our zone, picked up by one of our Downtown Ambassadors. To schedule a pickup, please call 204.958.7233 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Once we’ve received your application, a BIZ staff member will follow up with you by phone to learn more about your specific needs. From there, we will assess and decide if you’re a fit for the Connect Grant. If you are successful in receiving a grant, you will be matched with your Connect Grant partner who will work with you from there.

You will hear from us regardless of the outcome of your application.

The Downtown Winnipeg BIZ will check in with you to learn how the program has helped to sustain your business. If you have a success story, we want to hear it! And we might even want to share it.

We’re happy to help. Please email info@downtownwinnipegbiz.com or phone 204.958.4640.

Absolutely. Please email info@downtownwinnipegbiz.com or phone 204.958.4640.


Thank you to our Downtown Winnipeg BIZ Connect Grant service partners: