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Business Grants

Vacant Shop Grant – IMPORTANT UPDATE March 2023

Merri-bek City Council wishes to advise as at March 2023 the funding limit is close to being reached with a number of applications pending review. Any new applications submitted will be assessed based on when they were submitted, completeness of application received and if funds are still available.

The grant program is a competitive process and limited by the amount of funds available. The grant was open on October 24, 2022 and will remain open until 30 April 2023 unless funds run out earlier. The program has received a lot of interest and we have reached the funding limit earlier than anticipated.

Thank you for your interest in the Merri-bek Vacant Shop Grant. Please contact Council's Economic Development Team on 8311 4131 or email

About Merri-bek Vacant Shop Grant Program

Merri-bek City Council aims to support businesses and reinvigorate shopping strips through its Vacant Shop Grant Program. 

The Merri-bek Vacant Shop Grant Program provides grants to subsidise rent, setup costs and/or shopfront improvements for  entrepreneurs, businesses and creatives that enter a lease for a vacant, ground floor, street-facing space within a shopping strip located in the City of Merri-bek. 

The objectives of the Vacant Shop Grant Program include:  

  • Rejuvenating streets with high vacancy rates 
  • Filling vacant shops   
  • Encouraging new, innovative and/or home-based businesses to move into a commercial setting 
  • Activating shopping strips 

Applications open on 24 October 2022. Apply for the Merri-bek Vacant Shop Grant Program. 

Grant value 

A $100,000 has been allocated to this grant program. Applicants may be eligible for a $5,000 or $10,000 grant. This grant program is a competitive process and is limited by the amount of funds available. Applicants are not guaranteed funding. 

The grants will remain open until 30 April 2023 unless funding runs out earlier. 
The funding is available through two streams: 

  • $5,000 grant – supports applicants who have signed a short term lease to assist in opening a short-term or pop-up shop (for applications who sign a lease for a period of 3 months and up to 12 months) 
  • $10,000 grant – supports applicants who have signed a long term lease to assist in opening and operating a retail shop (for applicants who sign a lease of 12 months plus). 
    Applicants are required to complete the $10k Business Plan template.

    $10k Business Plan template (Word)
    $10k Business Plan template (PDF)

Key dates 


Scheduled Date 

Applications open 

9 am Monday 24 October 2022 

Applications close

11:59 pm Sunday 30 April 2023 

Grant recipients announced 

Applications will be considered within 10 working days of submission of application. 

Funds issued to successful applicants 

Funds will be reimbursed based on the submission of paid invoices/receipt. This grant is paid on a reimbursement basis. Council can reimburse payments for the full amount of the grant in one payment or can reimburse portions of the Grant across 3 payments. 

Final invoices/receipts must be submitted 

Friday 16 June 2023  


Who can apply for the grants? 

To be eligible to apply, applicants must: 

  • Have a valid ABN. 
  • Have Public Liability Insurance or be auspiced by an organisation with Public Liability Insurance with a minimum coverage of $10 million. 
  • Comply with all terms and conditions included in the funding agreement.

What can be funded? 

Examples of what can be funded as part of this grant program include, but are not limited to: 

  • Rent 
  • Signage 
  • Site fit out  
  • External works  
  • Permits 

Only one grant is available per lease, per property. 

Vacant Shop Grant Program Guidelines 

Download a copy of the Vacant Shop Grant Program Guidelines below: 

Vacant Shop Grant 2022-23 Program Guidelines (PDF) 

Vacant Shop Grant 2022-23 Program Guidelines (Word) 

How to apply for a Vacant Shop Grant

Read the Vacant Shop Grant Program Guidelines before applying. 
Your application must be completed and submitted through  SmartyGrants 

SmartyGrants lets you save sections of your application return to it later (you do not need to do it all at once). Your application will be stored online, so there is no need to save it to your computer. 

SmartyGrants is user friendly, but please keep the following in mind. 

  • It’s helpful to read the SmartyGrants Help Guide for Applicants before you start the application form 
  • Allow plenty of time to complete your online application, so that if you run into difficulties, you can seek help 
  • Fields marked with an asterisk must be completed 
  • As part of completing the form, you need to upload supporting documents. Files must be no greater than 25mb but are best kept under 5mb each 
  • To avoid losing your work, remember to regularly save your progress in SmartyGrants every 10-15 minutes, as the form logs you out after 30 minutes of inactivity 
  • Review your responses before you submit your application 
  • You will receive an email instantly confirming the application has been submitted 

Applications will not be assessed unless they are formally submitted. 

Late applications will not be accepted. 

Apply for a Vacant Shop Grant via SmartyGrants.

To discuss your project idea or for any general queries about the guidelines, contact the Economic Development team on: 

Ph: 03 8311 4131

Email: business@merri-bek.vic, 

Other grants programs 

Community Grants Program  

Flourish: Arts Recovery Grants Program