By Andrew Starke

The City of Sydney is expanding its support for quirky businesses like late night cafes and bars after council this week endorsed a new Finegrain Business Development Matching Grant Program.

The new program 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.

While the new program will continue to encourage the development of small laneway bars and other businesses in Sydney's laneways, it will also focus on the growth of other 'finegrain', specialist retail, hospitality and entertainment ventures.

"Since the launch of our Laneways Business Development Program in 2008, more than 20 new small businesses have opened in laneways in central Sydney," said Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP.

"Sydney's lanes, however, represent only part of the 'finegrain' offering of our City, and we are now expanding the program to encourage other small-scale, diverse and unique businesses to set up and thrive in under-utilised spaces."

One of the biggest success stories of the program so far has been Grasshopper, a tiny bar in Temperance Lane off George Street, which was named Australia's best small bar earlier this year after opening in April with help from the City's grants program.

"It's been a wonderful first year of business for Grasshopper, and the City's grants program has been instrumental in promoting the laneway culture in Sydney's CBD," said Martin O'Sullivan, co-owner of Grasshopper.

The City's grants and sponsorships programs are reviewed annually to ensure that they continue to meet the objectives outlined in Sustainable Sydney 2030.

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.

"The City's laneways, plazas and arcades hold enormous potential for people with innovative small business ideas to identify potential spaces, work with property owners and create new social arenas for residents and visitors," said Moore.

"We look forward to hearing from small business entrepreneurs with new and innovative business ideas who want help setting up in the city centre."

For more about grants in the City, click here.

The Shout Team

The leading online news service for Australia's beer, wine, spirits and hospitality industries.

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