By Aimee Chanthadavong

Small businesses such as specialist retail, hospitality and entertainment ventures are being encouraged to open in Sydney’s laneways.

The City of Sydney is endorsing this as part of the Finegrain Business Development Match Grant program that will replace the city’s Laneways Business Development Program, which has provided over $120,000 in funding for new small businesses since its launch in July 2008.

Speaking to RetailBiz, Richard Roberts, City of Sydney finegrain business advisor, said this grant will encourage small-scale businesses to set up and open in under-utilised spaces of the city.

"As more large international retailers appear on the ‘high street’ there is a need for cities to differentiate themselves,” he said.

“Small, innovative boutique businesses in interesting locations are what make a city unique and as Sydney encourages more of these we hope to see these innovative and unique small businesses become synonymous with Sydney."

The updated Finegrain Business Development Matching Grant program will provide successful applicants with matched cash funding of up to $30,000, plus mentoring and training opportunities for new businesses wanting to set up in the LGA.

"Existing larger or ‘high street’ retail spaces are not always affordable for small new businesses, hence why we are encouraging boutique retailers to seek out innovative and underutilised commercial spaces – to make the central city more viable,” Roberts said.

“Council’s Finegrain Business Development Matching Grant program seeks to encourage a diverse mix of new operators with original ideas, by offering financial assistance and business mentoring support, to help them to enter the central city market."