Three Programs Announced to Support Businesses and Increase Downtown Vibrancy

The Edmonton Downtown Business Association announces three new programs that will support business growth and more shopping and dining options for the Downtown community and increase vibrancy in the core.

Downtown Retail Project
Applications are now open for the Downtown Retail Project, a business attraction and incubation program for retailers that will help remove barriers and reduce risk for opening brick-and-mortar stores in the downtown core. Up to six retailers will receive up to $250,000 each to help offset the costs of building out a new downtown location. Businesses will also benefit from three-months’ free rent and marketing and other operational support once stores are up and running.

“When we talk about downtown vibrancy, high retail vacancy and a lack of shopping options are among the most frequently brought up frustrations from downtown residents, visitors, workers, and business owners. We’re committed to help bring back a much-needed fresh and diverse retail mix to downtown Edmonton and support business owners who see the potential of our downtown by removing some of the high start-up costs and financial risk, which are often a barrier to entry,” says Puneeta McBryan, Executive Director, Edmonton Downtown Business Association.

The program is a partnership with commercial real estate advisors Avison Young, selected through a competitive RFP process, who will lead site selections, lease negotiations, permitting and store design and builds for six successful applicants. Avison Young will also lend their expertise and knowledge to assist in retaining tenants and landlords.

“Avison Young is proud to have been selected as the project partner for Edmonton Downtown Business Association to implement the Downtown Retail Incubation and Attraction project,” says Chris Killingsworth, Vice President, Retail at Avison Young “We are excited to work with and support retailers looking to capitalize on the opportunity that exists in our downtown. This project will have a significant, positive impact on downtown vibrancy by giving the community more reasons to come shop and spend time in the area.”

Government funding for this project has been provided by the Government of Alberta through the Ministry of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development. Additional funding and support for this project will come from the City of Edmonton as part of the funding provided by the Government of Alberta to support their ongoing Downtown Vibrancy efforts.

“Edmonton deserves a vibrant downtown that is an amazing place to live, work, and play. Alberta’s government is proud to support the efforts of the Edmonton Downtown Business Association to make that happen. We are proud to support this creative initiative led by the Edmonton Downtown Business Association that will attract more retailers to Edmonton’s downtown core and ensure it continues to thrive as the economic and cultural heart of the city.”

–   Brian Jean, Minister of Jobs, Economy and Northern Development

“Downtown is a place that supports a strong, diverse economy, where businesses, infrastructure, and amenities are connected and coordinated. An economically strong downtown encourages growth and investment that is foundational to sustainability. Working closely with our partners like the Government of Alberta and the Edmonton Downtown Business Association we’re creating the conditions for a vibrant, inclusive, safe and sustainable economy in our downtown core.”

–    Amarjeet Sohi, Mayor, City of Edmonton

Interested businesses and property managers can read more about the project and apply online here. Timelines for the project are below:

  • Tenant and retail applications – May 31, 2023
  • Applicants selected – June 15, 2023
  • Design, Permitting & Construction – July – October 2023
  • Occupancy starts – November 2023


Downtown Patio Grant

Launching just in time for the start of outdoor dining season, the EDBA announces a Downtown Patio Grant for restaurants, bars and cafes located within its borders. Up to $5,000 is available per business, per location, to help cover costs for building a new patio or improvements or additions to an existing one located on public space, such as sidewalks, parking spaces or alleys.

The Downtown Patio Grant aims to promote a lively and vibrant downtown streetscape and support the establishment of more restaurant patio spaces by reducing building and maintenance costs.

“Patios are such an essential part of the downtown experience, and the last three years have showed us just how much of an impact we can have when we remove barriers and allow businesses to get bold and creative with their outdoor space. We are so excited about this opportunity to support businesses in taking their patios to the next level,” says Puneeta McBryan.

Up to $240,000 in Downtown Patio Grant funding will be available until September 30, 2023, or until funds are dispersed.

Funding for this project is provided by the City of Edmonton’s Downtown Vibrancy Fund and the Edmonton Downtown Business Association.

Interested businesses and property owners can read more about the grant and apply online here.

Business Adaptation & Revitalization

The Business Adaption & Revitalization Program will connect downtown small business owners to marketing support and other business expertise, along with direct financial support for investments in business improvements, to help them adapt their business to the ever-changing post-COVID economic landscape.

Up to six businesses will be selected to work with the University of Alberta School of Business Student Consulting Group for six weeks to develop a revamped business strategy, business model, marketing plan and short-term action plan to help increase revenue and set them up for sustainable growth. The package will also include direct funding of up to $5,000 per business to cover implementation costs, which will include eligible expenses like digital marketing, signage, and light interior and exterior renovations.

The Business Adaption & Revitalization program is a partnership between the Edmonton Downtown Business Association, the University of Alberta School of Business and the City of Edmonton.


For more information about these programs and to arrange an interview, contact Tracy Hyatt, Director, Marketing and Communication, Edmonton Downtown Business Association,