Palm Desert has $650K to help businesses renovate, expand and more

Sherry Barkas
Palm Springs Desert Sun
Palm Desert is reinstating its "Invest Palm Desert" economic development incentive program to offer financial assistance to businesses looking to expand, renovate, relocate to the city, and more.

Palm Desert is restarting an economic development incentive program the city had launched just before the pandemic.

“Invest Palm Desert” was started in January 2020, but when businesses were closed or services limited to slow the spread of COVID-19, the council voted a few months later to use the $2 million appropriated for the economic development incentive program to instead help those struggling during the pandemic.

With the $650,000 remaining in that fund, the council on Thursday voted to reinstate Invest Palm Desert.

“The Invest Palm Desert program provides a targeted and marketable programmatic source of funds for the attraction, expansion, and retention of economic development activity in the city,” said Eric Ceja, economic development director.

The funds can be used for development and to rebate plan check fees; capital improvement grants; new development project assistance; and site-specific revenue sharing — which may include sales tax revenue, though the city didn't give specifics.

That will be determined on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the city council, city spokesman Thomas Soule said.

The program’s focus is on properties within the Desert Willow Golf Resort, University Park, downtown corridors, commercial and Industrial zoned properties, Ceja said.

The program also includes the San Pablo Capital Improvements Grant for properties along the San Pablo Avenue commercial corridor, Highway 111 and Fred Waring Drive that are within the downtown, downtown edge and downtown overlay zoning districts. Grants are offered on a 2:1 ratio – on a $300,000 project, for example, the business applicant would cover $100,000 of costs and the city would contribute $200,000.

Applicants approved for funds would have up to six months to spend those dollars or initiate redevelopment projects, Ceja said.

Businesses must go through an application process, showing financial need and detailing the purpose for the funds and how they would be used.

Money for the program is from the city's economic development reserve fund.

Applications must be filed with Ceja.

The amount of funds available for each applicant will vary.

The council approved reinstatement of Invest Palm Desert 4-0 with Councilmember Gina Nestande absent.

Applications and information about other business incentive programs can be found at, or call City Hall at (760) 346-0611.

Desert Sun reporter Sherry Barkas covers the cities of La Quinta, Indian Wells, Rancho Mirage and Palm Desert. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @TDSsherryBarkas