What is the Renaissance Downtown Challenge?

The  Oswego  Renaissance Association offers Matching Funds (up to $2,000) to owners of eligible businesses, in Oswego's Traditional Downtown area, to create attractive and vibrant Outdoor Seating Environments (OaSEs) for customers. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a  challenging environment for restaurants and other human service retail in Oswego, NY. OaSEs are needed to keep customers safe and for businesses to remain healthy. Space for customers to sit outdoors is at a premium. While human service retail in Oswego has created some outdoor seating on sidewalks, it has not realized its full potential. Various types of OaSEs, such as sidewalk cafes and Parklets, are more than tables and chairs on the sidewalk. OaSEs buffer customers from the sight and sounds of traffic, protect them from sun, and are attractive environments that people want to be in. The goal of the Renaissance Downtown Challenge is to incentivize eligible downtown businesses to significantly expand and/or improve their outdoor seating through the creation of OaSEs in front of their businesses.

What Types of Businesses are Eligible?


     To be eligible, a business must meet two criteria:


       I. Business Types


            Eligibility is Limited to locally owned:



                        Sub/Sandwich or Pizza Shops

                        Coffee Houses

                        Ice Cream Parlors

                        Barbershops and/or Hair Salons


            Any other businesses, such as convenience stores, bars, etc are not eligible in this 2020 pilot program. A business identified as a bar,              but which provides a menu with a wide range of cooked food options and seating is used, may be classified as a Restaurant for our                  purposes and may be eligible.  Depending on the program's success, future years may expand business eligibility.  


      II. Business Location in Target Area

             For this application year (2020/21) eligibility is limited to businesses located in Oswego's TD1 (Traditional Downtown) zoning areas, coded in                 the City of Oswego zoning map.

How to Participate for 2020-21


Look to see if your business is in our current Downtown Target Zones. Businesses in target zones are especially encouraged to apply.


If you decide to apply for the Renaissance Downtown Challenge for 2020/21, do the following: 1) Look at How to Create a Competitive Application (below), 2) then go through the Frequently Asked Questions, 3) Look at the visual examples provided at the bottom of this page, and 4) Download the application for the Renaissance Downtown Challenge Grant (below). Applications are due (TBA).  Awarded Projects can be executed in 2020 or, if needed, in the Spring of 2021.  Businesses submitting applications are encouraged to contact the ORA with any questions in order to prepare and submit  a detailed application. Award decisions will occur the first week in September. 


1. IMPORTANT: How to Create a Competitive Application

2. Frequently Asked Questions.

3. Application Download Available Soon






The Renaissance Downtown Challenge was made possible in 2020 by financial support from the following (growing) list:


The Richard S. Shineman Foundation     |    Pathfinder Bank

SUNY Oswego  | Operation Oswego County


Oswego Renaissance Association / / Oswego, NY 13126