News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

September 22, 2016

Applications Now Available for Grants to Revitalize Downtown Commercial Buildings

Incentives to Bring More Retail to the Downtown Core: Clarke

The province is providing funding for two grant programs investing in projects that will improve downtown Winnipeg’s older buildings while encouraging private investment and new local business – PUSH, which promotes fresh new downtown retail, and Face Forward, CentreVenture’s commercial storefront improvement program, Indigenous and Municipal Relations Minister Eileen Clarke announced today.

The programs are part of a new, multi-year strategy being launched by CentreVenture Development Corporation to support local entrepreneurs and improve ground-floor retailing in the heart of downtown Winnipeg.

“The Face Forward program supports storefront improvements such as heritage restoration, lighting and accessible entryways on downtown’s older buildings,” said Clarke.  “This funding encourages local owners and businesses to make investments in these buildings, creating a more vibrant urban community that will attract more visitors and strengthen the local economy.”

Face Forward provides matching capital grants of up to $50,000 that support storefront improvements for projects that leverage private investment and contribute significantly to the quality of downtown streetscapes.  Improvements should upgrade the building exterior, enhance pedestrian comfort and preserve and maintain the heritage of a building.  This helps create attractive and safe pedestrian environments that attract other businesses to the area, making downtown a place to live work, play and invest in, the minister noted.

“This ground-floor retail strategy is about attracting new businesses downtown and creating a critical mass of unique retailers, especially on great shopping streets like Graham Avenue,” said Angela Mathieson, president and chief executive officer, CentreVenture Development Corporation.  “By helping to improve the exteriors of our older building stock, we’re creating the attractive, inviting and safe pedestrian experience we want Winnipeggers to have downtown.”

Thom Bargen Specialty Coffee at the corner of Graham and Kennedy, recently made the move downtown, with the property renovations supported by Face Forward.

“Our new storefront changed the feel of the whole block and helped us establish our business downtown,” said Graham Bargen, co-owner of Thom Bargen.  “Now we’re so happy to have more retailers join us as part of the Graham Avenue renaissance.”

Target areas for 2016 include the Exchange District, the Sports, Hospitality Entertainment District (SHED) and Graham Avenue between Vaughn and Donald streets.

As part of the strategy, CentreVenture is also extending the PUSH program, which matches building owners who have storefront vacancies with up-and-coming local entrepreneurs to establish new destination and shopping experiences. 

Once a match is made, CentreVenture assists the entrepreneur to establish their space including minor tenant improvements, navigating regulatory processes such as occupancy permits, and signage and marketing support.  Rent is partially subsidized through the PUSH program for the first three months.

Dominika Dratwa, a participant in the PUSH program and owner and founder of Verde, has established a permanent shop at 419 Graham Ave., offering Winnipeggers handcrafted plants as living art, as well as maker workshops. 

“The PUSH program is an essential kick-starter for entrepreneurs wanting to launch their businesses downtown,” said Dratwa.  “Without the PUSH program, my shop and business could not have come to fruition.”

The Amsterdam Tea Room is currently part of the PUSH program, located at 211 Bannatyne Ave.  Two more PUSH locations will be established on Graham Avenue, and interested retailers can apply for a chance to occupy these spaces.

CentreVenture was established in 1999 with a mandate to provide leadership in the planning, development, co-ordination and implementation of projects and activities in the downtown.  Applications for both programs are available through CentreVenture by visiting or by calling 204-954-7733.

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