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City of Philadelphia

Empowerment Zones

Contact Us

With any questions about the Empowerment Zone, please contact: Aiisha Herring-Miller, Director of Economic Development Zones at 215-683-2152 or Aiisha.G.Herrring@phila.gov and Sara Lepori, Manager, Economic Development Zones at 215-683-2045 or Sara.Lepori@phila.gov
In 1994, the City of Philadelphia received $79 million to establish the Philadelphia Empowerment Zone in three neighborhoods that include American Street, North Central, and West Philadelphia. The main objective of the Philadelphia Empowerment Zone designation was to develop initiatives and programs to reduce unemployment and generate economic growth. In 2004, the Philadelphia Empowerment Zone created the legacy project called the Neighborhood Funding Stream (NFS prior to the Philadelphia Empowerment Zone designation ending in 2009.

The NFS is a community endowment that makes annual grants in each PEZ neighborhood. Although the federal designation has expired, the Philadelphia Department of Commerce manages programs funded by the NFS with the advisement of the three Community Trust Boards. As of 2016, the Neighborhood Funding Stream has grown to approximately $27 million and invests 5% annually through economic development grants in the Philadelphia Empowerment Zone neighborhoods. The Philadelphia Empowerment Zone is the only Empowerment Zone to create a local endowment and the Philadelphia Department of Commerce is proud to offer grants each year to support activities and initiatives such as:
  • Tax Preparation and Financial Literacy
  • Workforce Development and Job Training
  • Commercial and Industrial Real Estate Development
  • Business Expansion
  • Business Technical Assistance
  • Commercial Corridor Revitalization

Current Funding and Opportunities by Zone

American Street Empowerment Zone (ASEZ)

Neighborhood Economic Development Impact Grants
Gap financing grant available to developers or business owners who are constructing or substantially rehabbing a commercial or light industrial building. Application is rolling and can be accessed here.

Business Expansion Grant
1:1 matching grant, up to $25,000, available to existing businesses who are expanding in or locating to the ASEZ. Grant funds can be used for fit out and equipment costs incurred as part of the business expansion. The application along with more information can be found here.

One Time Capital
Grants up to $15,000 are available to Non-Profit Organization working in or serving clients within the ASEZ to address an unforeseen and critical capital need. More information and full application can be found here.

Beautification
Grants up to $10,000 are available to Non-Profit Organizations taking on a beautification or public art project within the ASEZ. Full application and guidelines can be found here.

Financial Literacy
During tax season, the ASEZ provides funding for any resident or individual who works within the ASEZ to receive free tax return preparation and financial literacy services. More information will be available in advance of the 2018 tax season.

ASEZ Storefront Improvement Program
Similar to the Citywide SIP program, the ASEZ offers the Storefront Improvement Program grants to any commercial or light industrial building within the zone. More information and application can be found here.

A map of the American Street Empowerment Zone can be found here.

American Street Empowerment Zone (ASEZ)

Neighborhood Economic Development Impact Grants
Gap financing grant available to developers or business owners who are constructing or substantially rehabbing a commercial or light industrial building. Application is rolling and can be accessed here.

Storefront Improvement Program Supplement Grant
Storefronts on located on the following blocks can receive an additional 25% match

  • 1400-2200 blocks of Cecil B Moore Avenue
  • 1000-1200 blocks of Lehigh Avenue
  • 2100-2600 blocks of Germantown Avenue
Business Assistance Grant
Grant of up to $25,000, available to existing and start-up businesses who are expanding in or locating to the ASEZ. Grant funds can be used for fit out and equipment costs incurred as part of the business expansion. The application along with more information can be found here.

A map of the North Central Empowerment Zone can be found here.

West Philadelphia Empowerment Zone (WPEZ)

Business Assistance Grant
A flexible grant designed to connect businesses to capital to grow and expand. These funds can be used for purchase of equipment, fit out, marking or professional business services. A full description and application can be found here.

A map of the West Philadelphia Empowerment Zone can be found here.

Funding Opportunities

Sign up for email alerts to find out about Empowerment Zone Request for Proposal funding opportunities.