By Paula Detwiller
Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency
When you’re starting a business from scratch, every dollar counts. Just ask 32-year-old John Macatangay, one of Delray Beach’s newest young business owners.
After acquiring the only Great Florida Insurance franchise between West Palm Beach and Plantation, Macatangay went looking for business loans and grants.
Not to be deterred, Macatangay eventually found the Delray Beach Community Redevelopment Agency website and learned about the agency’s grant programs for business. After attending a pre-application workshop led by CRA Marketing and Grants Manager Elizabeth Burrows, he decided to apply for a Site Development Assistance grant to help pay for exterior improvements to his leased office space at 142 SE 6th Avenue.
It wasn’t until after his grant was approved that Macatangay realized how much the CRA invests in the community, working with larger businesses, programs and redevelopment projects. “I’m really small potatoes,” Macatangay said, “but [the CRA staff] was super-helpful. They came in and helped me no differently than they’d go out and help the developer of a two-million-dollar project.”
The Site Development Assistance Program reimburses businesses in the CRA District a portion of their exterior improvements costs, in an effort to promote business expansion, encourage job creation, and ultimately enhance the tax base. Macatangay’s company, ASM Insurance Services, qualified for a 25 percent reimbursement of eligible expenses, up to a maximum of $25,000.
After calculating his expenses, the CRA Board approved a $2,000 grant for ASM Insurance Services. The money will help pay for a steel-framed rear door to replace a rotting wooden one; new signage along the front of the building; and a panel sign in the freestanding pylon sign serving the plaza where his office is located (also the home of Couture Cakes, Señor Burrito, and Domino’s Pizza).
To keep costs down, Macatangay did much of the interior improvements himself—tearing out old flooring, applying paint, replacing every ceiling panel, and assembling furniture. He chose a “Great Florida orange” color scheme, with orange walls, lamps, and office accessories.
“It’s refreshing to work with someone like John,” said the CRA’s Burrows. “I think he’s a great example of the bright, motivated entrepreneurs that are attracted to Delray Beach. Small businesses play an important role in our local economy, so it’s important that we have programs in place to assist them.”
A first-generation Filipino American, Macatangay grew up in Staten Island, New York and majored in Finance at the University of Scranton (Pennsylvania). After college he followed his family to South Florida. He learned the fundamentals of business management at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and then worked for a State Farm Insurance agent in Boca Raton.
Now that he’s his own boss, Macatangay said he enjoys going to work every day.
“It’s not work at this point, you know? It feels good to be able to walk in and have your own place, and know that every decision you make is 100 percent yours. Every success and every failure and every time you learn something, it’s based on your own decisions.”
He plans to apply for a second CRA grant soon—the Business Development Assistance grant, which offers up to 12 months of rental assistance to new businesses in the CRA District.
“At the end of the day, as a young small business owner, every penny counts,” he said.
Paula Detwiller writes professionally for the CRA and other clients. Her website/blog can be found at www.pdwrites.com