UCD knows that neighborhoods need healthy, flourishing commercial corridors in order to thrive. Since its founding, helping the local business community has been core to the UCD mission, and the organization has undertaken a variety of activities to support business recruitment, retention and growth. From creating destination events along commercial corridors to beautifying streetscapes to keeping the streets clean and safe, UCD works hard to create an inviting atmosphere throughout the district. This ensures that University City is one of the best places in Philadelphia to start, run and grow a business.

Small Business Services

Today, UCD’s Small Business Services helps businesses looking to open, expand, improve their business and/or relocate here in University City. The services are aimed at both business owners and landlords throughout the district, and in the past three years, we’ve helped individual businesses access over $125,000 in funding, conduct storefront renovations, find new real estate in West Philadelphia, navigate zoning challenges, and develop the business plans that were critical in helping them to access capital. We’ve also supported landlords looking to make building improvements in order to attract new tenants.


UCD responds to the unique needs of each individual business owner and landlord, with a focus on providing assistance in the following ways:   

  • Helping businesses find and access funds from sources like the City of Philadelphia’s Commerce Department, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation (PIDC), The Merchants Fund, the Hebrew Loan Society and Kiva These grants and loans are vital to launching, renovating and expanding businesses, improving storefronts and interiors, purchasing equipment, installing security systems, and more.
  • Assisting businesses looking to navigate the City’s regulatory environment.
  • Providing location services for businesses seeking real estate in the community.
  • Advising on the creation and refinement of business plans.
  • Helping landlords access funds and navigate regulations in order to build out spaces to attract new tenants.


Over the years, UCD has assisted pillars of the West Philadelphia business community, including:

  • Dock Street Brewery: UCD assisted Dock Street Brewery when they sought to obtain a zoning variance, and helped the business access grant funding to support its cannery expansion project.
  • Lee’s Deli: UCD helped transform Lee’s Deli through Commerce Department funds that were be used for both storefront and in-store improvements.
  • Renata’s Kitchen: UCD helped Renata's move into their new, larger home at Trolley Portal Gardens.
  • BarkPark West: UCD helped navigate and secure critical Storefront Improvement Grants.
  • Making World’s Bookstore: UCD helped navigate and secure critical Storefront Improvement Grants.
  • Clarkville: UCD helped navigate and secure critical Storefront Improvement Grants.


For more information, contact Ryan Spak, Project Rehab Manager, at [email protected]

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