Cocoa City Council has once again approved funding for the UpStart Cocoa business start-up program to promote the growth of minority and/or women-owned small businesses throughout the City of Cocoa. The program, called Upstart Cocoa, is designed as a three-year forgivable loan program that awards up to $10,000 to a new start-up business or a business looking to expand into the City of Cocoa. After three years of 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 businesses, and 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.”
There are four loans available through this program. Two are specifically for businesses that will be located in the Diamond Square Redevelopment Area in Cocoa and the other two are for the entire City of Cocoa. Applications are available beginning January 1, 2024, online at https://www.cocoafl.gov/FormCenter/Economic-Development-14/Upstart-Cocoa-Small-Business-Program-App-155 and will be open for applicants until all grants have been distributed for the fiscal year. A review committee, selected by the Cocoa City Manager, which will review all submitted applications, will be comprised of a member of the City of Cocoa’s Community Services staff, a representative from weVENTURE, and an appointed community banking representative.