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The City of San Antonio is proud to announce the following Request for Applications (RFA) for the City’s American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) funded Corridor Program Pilot. With over 300 years of history, San Antonio is a city of rich culture, historic neighborhoods, diverse communities, and residents with a strong connection to place.

This program, and the City’s partnership with Main Street America (MSA), will serve as a pilot for a potential, broader City-led program. The RFA will help the City identify two (2) initial corridors for participation in the program and the associated funding, MSA trainings, and organizational support. These two corridors will help lay the foundation for San Antonio’s future status as an MSA Coordinating Community in Texas, with the potential for additional corridor investments, development, and other placemaking initiatives in communities and neighborhoods around the city.

About Main Street America

Established as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1980, the National Main Street Center (NMSC) was developed to address the myriad issues facing older and historic downtowns and neighborhoods. Working with a nationwide network of coordinating programs and local communities for over forty years, Main Street America (MSA) has been instrumental in developing highly successful corridor and neighborhood programs in almost every state in the nation. MSA has helped over 2,000 communities across the country further economic vitality, while celebrating their historic character and bringing communities together. 

The Main Street Approach (“the Approach”) is MSA’s framework for community revitalization and is centered around Four Points: Economic Vitality, Design, Organization, and Promotion. The Approach offers community-based revitalization initiatives with a strategic, adaptable framework for commercial corridor transformation that is easily tailored to local conditions. 

MSA pioneered the use of this approach in urban neighborhood commercial districts with the City of Boston in 1995 when it created the Boston Main Streets Program. Boston’s program was the first city-wide, urban, multi-neighborhood district Main Street program in the United States. Today, MSA delivers technical assistance and training services to Main Street urban neighborhood commercial districts through other city-wide Main Street coordinating programs in cities such as Baltimore, Orlando, and Washington DC.

MSA has partnered with several Texas cities including Austin, New Braunfels, Seguin, and San Marcos through their state-wide coordinating program, Texas Main Street. Fort Worth, TX recently undertook the Main Street process to become a coordinating program member as well. 

 Program Overview

To support the development and implementation of the Corridor Program Pilot, the City of San Antonio’s Economic Development Department (EDD) partnered with MSA for a San Antonio-specific program. MSA's understanding of the regional market and overall experience will be key elements in the Program’s Request for Applications (RFA) distribution, review, and selection process, which will determine the two (2) selected organizations/entities and their respective corridors.

Following the RFA process and selection, MSA will also provide technical community revitalization assistance for the selected corridors, as well as community-wide Main Street Fundamental and Market Analysis training. As part of the program, selected corridors will also receive funding for organizational development, program implementation, and technical assistance in support of the corridor development and revitalization.

MSA’s programming offerings for selected corridors includes:

  • Main Street 101 Basic Training in Urban Commercial Districts
  • Community Asset Mapping, Engagement, and Partnership Building
  • Board Roles & Responsibilities Training (Not-for-Profit)
  • Board and Community Volunteer Recruitment and Retention
  • Market Analysis Training Utilizing the Main Street Approach
  • Development of Customized Transformation Strategies
  • Work Plan / Metrics Development
  • Program Assessment Visits with Each Corridor


Each of the two selected corridors will receive up to $425,000 in total funding support:

  • $200,000 in operational funding support.

          - $25,000 for June 2023 to September 2023;

          - $100,000 for October 2023 to September 2024; and

          - $75,000 for October 2024 to September 2025

  • Up to $225,000 in project implementation and/or technical assistance contract funding to support the overall corridor strategy.

This technical assistance funding will be for specific corridor needs, including but not limited to: building improvements, infrastructure investments, marketing and design needs, programming, and more.

 Request for Applications

This is intended as a guide to help applicants navigate the scoring criteria, the total points assigned to each application section, and possible scores based on the quality of responses to each criterion. Exemplary responses would include thoughtfully constructed answers, and include research, data, and qualitative backup when necessary. 

 Application Eligibility

Eligible applicants – or “Managing Organizations” – must be able to serve as the principle coordinator for all activity within the proposed corridor, or demonstrate a plan to establish the organization with such capacity. Requirements for the Managing Organizations include:

  • Be an established 501c3, 501c4, or 501c6, or commit to becoming one as part of the Corridor Program;
  • Be based in the applicable neighborhood or have a significant presence and support within the corridor, with the intention of locating an office in the corridor’s geographic area; and 
  • Demonstrate a track record of measurable community outcomes and a proven ability to convene community stakeholders

If an applicant proposes a new organization as part of the proposal, the organization must include a mission that is focused on place-based community economic development within the chosen corridor. The newly established, corridor-focused organization can be a subsidiary of an existing organization. However, if the proposed organization is newly established and independent of an existing organization, the applicant will need to demonstrate support and backing of institutions or other organizations that have a proven track record within the community.

 Application Criteria

1. Organizational Capacity (30 Points)

Scoring per Criteria:

  • Excellent Response (6 – 5 points)
  • Satisfactory Response (4 – 3 points)
  • Poor Response (2 – 1 points)
  • No Response (0 points)

Section Criteria:

(Each section here is weighted equally with a maximum of 6 points.)

  1. Applicant will be the “Managing Organization” for the proposed corridor and must be an existing 501c3, 501c4, or 501c6, or must commit to becoming one as part of the program.
  2. Applicant is based in the proposed corridor or has a significant presence there, with commitment to locate an office in the corridor if one does not already exist.
  3. Applicant has demonstrated ability and/or proposed plan to convene small businesses, property owners, residents, institutions, and corridor stakeholders.
  4. Applicant demonstrates commitment to sufficient staffing and sound financials (including one year of audited financial statements for existing 501s) to sustain economic development in the corridor and demonstrates support from organizations or individuals who will aid in fulfilling this objective.
  5. A demonstrated need for community capacity building and economic development.

2. Corridor Characteristics (20 points)

Scoring per Criteria:

  • Excellent Response (5 – 4 points)
  • Satisfactory Response (3 – 2 points)
  • Poor Response (1 point)
  • No Response (0 points)

Section Criteria:

(Each section here is weighted equally with a maximum of 5 points.)

  1. Proposal has a defined corridor within the boundaries of the City of San Antonio, including the size of the proposed area (measured in square miles & number of city blocks).
  2. How many businesses are within the proposed corridor, and what is the concentration of those businesses?
  3. What types of businesses are within the proposed corridor?
  4. What is the Combined Equity Score of the Census Tract for the proposed corridor location? (Link to find Combined Equity Score from City’s Equity Atlas)
  • Additional information: What are the current vacancy rates within the proposed corridor? (does not count towards score, it only provides additional context to the reviewer)
  • Additional information: What is the current and/or potential walkability (“Walkability Score”) of the proposed corridor? (Link to find Walk Score) (does not count towards score, it only provides additional context to the reviewer)

 3. Public Investment (20 points)

Scoring per Criteria:

  • Excellent Response (5 – 4 points)
  • Satisfactory Response (3 – 2 points)
  • Poor Response (1 point)
  • No Response (0 points)

Section Criteria:

(Each section here is weighted equally with a maximum of 5 points.)

  1. Has the City invested in projects and infrastructure within or adjacent to the proposed corridor in the 2012, 2017, and/or 2022 Bond Programs? 
  2. What Infrastructure Manage Plan (IMP) investments have been made within the corridor and/or adjacent to the corridor in the recent past, are currently underway, or planned for the future (2017 – 2027)?
  3. What other public-sector investments have been made in the proposed corridor, including but not limited to: parks, senior centers, libraries, public transit (VIA), infrastructure (SAWS and CPS), other public projects (Bexar County, State of Texas, Federal Government), academic institutions, and more?
  4. What art and cultural investments have been made in the proposed corridor, are currently under way, or will be made in the next 5 years?

 4. Existing City Plan Alignment (10 Points)

Scoring per Criteria:

  • Excellent Response (5 – 4 points)
  • Satisfactory Response (3 – 2 points)
  • Poor Response (1 point)
  • No Response (0 points)

Section Criteria:

(Each section here is weighted equally with a maximum of 5 points.)

  1. Is the proposed corridor a “Priority Corridor” identified in an adopted or currently underway SA Tomorrow Sub-Area Plan or Regional Center Plan?
  2. Is the corridor located within or adjacent to an existing TIRZ?

 5. Corridor Partnerships (10 points)

Scoring per Criteria:

  • Excellent Response (5 – 4 points)
  • Satisfactory Response (3 – 2 points)
  • Poor Response (1 point)
  • No Response (0 points)

Section Criteria:

(Each section here is weighted equally with a maximum of 5 points.)

  1. Applicants should demonstrate commitments by philanthropic and/or private partners to match or augment Corridor Program investment in the applicant corridor
  2. Applicants should demonstrate proposed collaborations with existing businesses and property owners, as well as public, private, non-profit, and academic institutions as part of the proposed corridor plan.

 Timeline & Key Dates

  • March 20, 2023 – Request for Applications (RFA) Opens
  • March 20 to April 30, 2023 – RFA Support from EDD and MSA staff
  • May 1, 2023 – Applications Due
  • May 2 to May 26, 2023 – Application Reviews, Interviews, and Site Visits
  • May 29 to June 14, 2023 – Final Selections & Briefings
  • Late June 2023 – Selected Corridors Announced
  • July 2023 – Programming Begins
  • September 2025 – Pilot Program Ends

 Application Submission Process

All applications must be submitted online through the Submittable Application Portal. The application submission deadline is 11:59 pm (CST), Monday, May 1, 2023. For additional information, please contact Dionne Baux at or

Backing Small Businesses Grant Program 2023

In 2021, American Express and Main Street America created the Backing Small Businesses* grant program to help under-resourced and economically vulnerable small business owners recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and grow their businesses. In its first year, the program provided $1.65 million in grants to more than 330 small business owners nationwide.

Now in its second year, the program will increase both grants awarded and total funding to more than $2.3 million to further support under-resourced and economically vulnerable small business owners in building their economic vitality and fostering a thriving community. In March 2023, applications will open for 350 small business grants of $5,000 to eligible businesses in the U.S. and territories. 


If you are awarded a $5,000 grant through this program, your business may also be eligible to be considered for an additional $25,000 Enhancement Grant! A limited subset of 25 grantees will receive this additional Enhancement Grant, which will allow those business owners the opportunity to further improve their businesses. All grant recipients will be required to submit a final grant report using the template provided. The report will include questions regarding the completed project plus additional questions about how the business could use an additional $25,000 Enhancement Grant to fund a project that would further improve the business, while providing goods or services that address cultural, environmental, and/or access needs in your community, if selected. Enhancement Grant project proposals can be related to the $5,000 grant proposal, or they may constitute a separate project.


Enhancement Grant Project Examples Include:

  • Community educational event to celebrate a historical or cultural moment that is meaningful to the neighborhood
  • Partnering with a charity to provide meals in a food security program for community
  • Partnering with local artists for community event or mural
  • Language translation of menus or websites to be more inclusive
  • Innovations to reduce food waste or improve sustainability 


This program builds on American Express’ ongoing Backing Small initiative to provide under-resourced and economically vulnerable small businesses with financial support and other resources to address their critical needs and challenges. 


Backing Small Businesses is one of many grant programs administered by Main Street America that are designed to enhance economic vitality and foster entrepreneurship in historic neighborhoods and commercial districts. For more information about funding opportunities through Main Street America and its partner organizations, please visit our Funding Opportunities webpage.


Membership in Main Street America is not required to be eligible for the Program, but businesses must have a "bricks-and-mortar" location and operate in an older or historic main street, downtown, or commercial district in the United States. 


Find additional eligibility requirements and other details below.


What types of businesses are eligible? Businesses must meet the following criteria to apply:

Businesses must meet the following criteria to apply:

  • The applicant must be an owner of the business.
  • The applicant must be at least age 18 years or older.
  • The business must be at least 51% owned, operated, and controlled by small business owners who identify as one or more of the following:


               -People with Disabilities

               -Immigrants, Refugees, and/or Forcibly Displaced



               -Asian American and/or Pacific Islander

               -Black and/or African American

               -Hispanic and/or Latinx

               -Middle Eastern and/or North African

               -Native and/or Indigenous

  • The business must be in a “bricks-and-mortar” location and operate in an older or historic main street, downtown, or commercial district in the United States. (Home-based businesses and businesses located in coworking spaces, even those located in historic neighborhoods, are not eligible. Brick and mortar businesses located outside of historic downtowns and commercial corridors, including, but not limited to, office parks and shopping malls are also not eligible.)
  • The business must be an independent business and not part of a franchise.
  • The business must employ less than 20 full time employees. 
  • The business must have been in operation since January 1, 2022.
  • The business must be a business entity in good standing in the state in which it was formed and the state in which it does business.
  • The business must have an active business license in the state where you do business.


What types of grant expenses are eligible? Eligible grant expenses include but are not limited to:

  • Accessibility Upgrades (Examples: ramp, menu translation, accessible website redesign for visually impaired people, etc.) 
  • Community Events and Programs (Examples: open mic night, public educational/training workshops, hosting community fund raisers, partnerships with other small businesses) 
  • Equipment and Inventory (Examples: point of sale device/software, purchasing of items for sale, display cases, kitchen equipment) 
  • Marketing (Examples: investing in social media campaign, building a website, etc.) 
  • Operational Strategy (Examples: branding package, accounting software, business coaching, and other types of support that would increase the viability of your business) 
  • Physical Improvements (Examples: signage, awnings, painting façade, new shelving, new lighting, etc.) Rent and/or Utilities Expenses 
  • Sustainability Upgrades (Examples: solar panels, rain garden adjacent to business, investing in reusable/compostable/recyclable packaging alternatives, etc.) 
  • Technology Upgrades (Examples: building an online storefront, online ordering system, or other e-commerce platform)
  • Rent or utilities

 *Payroll is NOT an eligible grant use for this program.

How to Apply. The application begins below. It should take about 15-20 minutes to populate this form. As you work through it, the application will auto-save. Please review the application questions in advance and keep a separate record of your answers, as your work will not be saved on the form prior to submission. We cannot accept changes to your application once it has been submitted, so please review it carefully. All non-public business and financial information provided in the application will be kept confidential. Finalists considered for an award may be contacted by Main Street America for additional information, including financial statements, before being selected as a recipient. All applications will be judged based on:


  • Proposed project must be completed with $5,000 grant by August 31, 2023.​


  • What are the business's net sales?​
  • What are some of the systemic challenges the business is facing? Applicants will be asked to explain the context of the business. For example, is the business experiencing, skilled staffing shortages​, supply chain issues​, and/or high bank loan interest rates?


  •  Applicants should demonstrate both need for financial support and viability of their business to successfully make an impact with this grant. How much will this grant impact the business itself in leveraging sales, grow their customer base, or better sustain the business in some other way?​
  • How clear and detailed is the vision for executing the grant?​

Community Reach

  • How involved is the applicant's small business in their community?​
  • How much would the business serve a community-specific need through this grant? Examples: ​Coffee shop in rural area that would use grant funds to provide high speed broadband wireless in community that otherwise has poor access to internet​; Business using grant to install ADA-accessible ramp that increases access for wheelchair users ; Website accessibility and/or language translation upgrades​; Goods or services that uniquely serve a customer base in the community

Program Timeline

  • Applications Open on March 20, 2023
  • Applications Close on April 7, 2023 at 11:59pm CT
  • $5,000 Grant Recipients Notified in June 2023
  • Selected projects completed by August 31, 2023
  • Grant Reports Due on September 15, 2023
  • $25,000 Enhancement Grants Announced in Late Fall 2023


Small Business Resources. Main Street America will provide training and resources to support small businesses that apply for the program, including:

  • Specialized marketing webinars delivered by Main Street America topic experts.
  • Free admission to upcoming small business training provided by Main Street America.
  • Dedicated resources like the Main Street Online tool and more, developed by Main Street America.

Backing Small Businesses is one of many new programs American Express has launched to support small businesses – including the Coalition to Back Black Businesses and Backing Historic Small Restaurants. More information and resources about American Express’ support for small businesses can be found here. 


For questions, email or call 312.610.5613 to leave a voice message. Please allow up to 2 business days for a response.


*Formerly known as Inclusive Backing

National Main Street Center