A grant for $2,000 to 2,500 might not seem like much, but it will make a difference for 13 Franklin small businesses.

On Thursday the Franklin Chamber of Commerce gave out their inaugural round of Capacity Building grants. A total of $30,000 was given to 13 downtown businesses to complete a wide array of projects, including boosting marketing budgets, building online catalogs, updating point-of-sale systems, and funding renovation projects. Of the 13, eight received $2,500 and five received $2,000.

Funding for the pilot program was provided by the Franklin Economic Development Commission and facilitated by the Franklin Chamber Foundation, the 501(c)3 arm of the Chamber, to strengthen local businesses through capacity-building projects. The businesses submitted applications and went through what was described as a “rigorous” selection process and the projects deemed the best by the selection committee were awarded.

All local businesses with 10 or fewer employees were eligible and 28 businesses applied for the grants, said Rosie Chambers, Franklin Chamber executive director. The selection committee had a hard task in picking the top applications, she said.

“I’m very, very pleased with the reception that we’ve had. It just shows how all applications were actually very, very good; it was very difficult to choose but yours all just rose to the top,” Chambers said.

1823 Bakehouse was awarded a grant to boost its advertising initiatives. The new campaign will promote both Franklin and the gluten-free bakery and eatery to a wider audience, with a goal to draw in visitors from nearby cities like Indianapolis and Bloomington, said Thomas Moore, an owner of Bakehouse.

Brick Street Boutique was awarded money to improve its display aesthetics, with a goal to better organize merchandise and boost sales, a representative of the store said.

Coffeehouse Five plans to use the grant for a remodeling project to bring their coffee roasting process to the front of the house. Right now the coffee, which is roasted fresh in-house daily, is roasted out of sight in the kitchen, said Amanda Buck of Coffeehouse Five.

The new roasting display would be on the stage-like area at their Franklin location. It would capitalize on a hidden gem of their business model, as the coffeehouse is the only place she knows of in the county that roasts coffee in-house, Buck said.

“We want to bring it up and create kind of a gallery so that you can see the roasting process so that more people can engage with it,” Buck said. “We’d like to then introduce some events where people can come do tastings and just increase the coffee education here so that people know more and create it into a little bit of a destination.”

Farm Girl Mercantile plans to use the grant for several projects which will include renovating the store’s bathroom and kitchen, and upgrading the store’s point-of-sale system. The goal is to keep the original wood floors where possible and keep the store’s decor in line with the period when it was built, said Tracy Bohler, owner.

The kitchen renovation is already underway and with it, customers will see the newly uncovered original wood flooring, along with a newly added 100-year-old general store display case in place of the previous kitchen cabinetry, she said.

Generation Art and Frame will be adding e-commerce to their website to sell local art to a wider audience, as well as spending money on marketing to promote their art classes and events, said Josh Hendrickson, owner. Art event attendance has been down since the pandemic and the marketing boost is hoped to raise awareness of the events, he said.

Middle Davids Artisan Candles will spruce up their website, which co-owner Tauria Catlin described as “cobbled together.” The systems to sell their housemade candles and artist items are currently separate, but the updates will bring them together and make the site more user-friendly. The update will also add recommended cycling routes for visitors to check out while they’re in town, she said.

Miss Polly’s Music Class will use the money for targeted social marketing to bring in new clients from the Franklin, Bargersville and Center Grove areas. Yard signs will also be purchased to increase visibility at her location in the Alva Neal Building, as well as a painting project to spruce up the studio, said Polly Jones, owner.

Possibilities: Home Re-Imagined will create a classroom and education space in a room in the back of the shop. Possibilities currently offers furniture painting classes in the space, but the grant will make the room more multi-purpose, adding things like a projection screen, chairs and tables. The room can be rented by people from the community for low or no cost, said Christina Fletcher, owner.

Salvage Sisters Antique Market will use the money to update the store’s internet and upgrade its point of sale system, said Harriet Beeler, mother of storeowner Julie Stewart.

Sweat Shop Franklin plans to market the creation of the fitness studio’s new Sisters Corporate Wellness Program. The wellness program is aimed to be more accessible to their clients, said Amy Skirvin, owner.

The program would help people have a whole person “glow up,” which is about getting in shape and learning to eat better to help clients make a long-term lifestyle change. The program is aimed at women, but is open to men also, she said.

“A lot of corporate wellness programs feel too stodgy for what we’re doing,” Skirvin said. “They’re not personal, they aren’t there with you. They’re not available and they just kind of throw wellness programs at your people and people aren’t using them.”

T-Shirt Express plans to use its grant to design a digital catalog. The store offers much more apparel than it can keep in stock, so the catalog is vital to ensure customers can see the full inventory, said Kelly Thomas, owner. The catalog will be available to view in-store on an iPad that the grant is also funding, she said.

Toodleydoo Toys will use the grant to expand the store’s catalog program, with the money going toward producing and mailing the catalogs to customers and potential customers. The goal is to produce three to four catalogs to maximize the store’s exposure year-round, said Debi Pierson, owner.

“I’m really trying to reach outside of Franklin to just bring more people here,” Pierson said. “Because I know that if any of us just get them here, then they’ll fall in love and be back and spend all their money.”

The store is also celebrating 10 years as Toodleydoo Toys and 20 years of selling toys in Franklin, she said.

Wild Geese Bookshop will make website improvements to better help order and ship gifts, along with adding elements to help tell the story of the store and help out-of-town customers navigate Franklin when they visit, said Tiffany Phillips, owner.

“They want to know like where do I park? Where do I go in? What are the things I shouldn’t miss here?” Phillips said. “And so I’m going to do a better job storytelling and updating our website, so $2,500 makes a huge difference.”