There’s no secret that our downtown is lacking relevant retails that would meet the needs of consumers in the area. But the West Palm Beach Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and City of West Palm Beach are collaborating on an innovative program to bring interesting retail to Clematis Street.

The business incubator idea was selected as a 2017 winner among 4,500 applicants to the Knight Cities Challenge that seeks community betterment ideas from the 26 communities where the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation invests. Just 33 ideas, including West Palm Beach’s, were awarded grants that year.

West Palm Beach’s initiative —funded through a $180,000 Knight Cities Challenge grant— is a multi-faceted approach to incubating up to 12 interesting shopping experiences within a high-profile space at 314 Clematis Street, which the West Palm Beach Community Redevelopment Agency plans to comprehensively renovate. The renovation is being designed by Spanish architecture firm Ecosistema Urbano, which won the Van Alen Institute Shore to Core competition hosted by the Community Redevelopment Agency.

The DDA and City of West Palm Beach Launch Business Incubator Initiative
Exterior of the space at 314 Clematis Street | Photo Danny Beans, WPB Magazine
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The initiative called “12 x 12” will create a healthy ecosystem of clustered storefronts in the Downtown core that complement each other’s services and create a vibrant, attractive experience for Downtown residents and visitors.

Since January 29, new or existing businesses are invited to apply to participate in the 12 for 12: Pop-up to Rent business competition. Applications are expected from a wide range of businesses such as boutiques, art galleries, bookstores, home décor, clothing retailers, gourmet grocers, and others.

The 12 businesses selected will receive two months of free rent and then scalable rent for up to two years after that to help get their businesses off the ground.

“We have made a commitment to expanding the city’s already strong base of small businesses.” said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “This incubator space will help get 12 businesses off the ground, creating a new generation of success and prosperity rooted in a highly visible location on Clematis Street.”

These ideas make our city a more vibrant place to live, work and play.

To apply, businesses must visit 12x12wpb.com and submit an application along with a 30-second video about their business and the value it will bring to Clematis Street. In March, semi-finalists will be selected and will be interviewed about their business plan. The twelve finalists will be selected in summer of 2018 and will prepare to open storefronts in the fall.

The DDA and City of West Palm Beach launch business incubator initiative. Learn more about the 12 for 12 program funded through a $180,000 Knight Cities Challenge Grant, 12 new or existing businesses will receive reduced rent for 12 months and other marketing assistance.