Six hundred St Helens firms are set to benefit from a new £580,000 business rate relief scheme launched by St Helens Council.
Small businesses such as shops, restaurants, cafes and pubs will see their business rates cut by up to £1,000 a year in both 2014-15 and 2015-16.
To qualify, firms must operate from retail premises with a rateable value of £50,000 or less - as determined by the Valuation Office Agency.
Banks, financial institutions, bookmakers, estate agents and medical services are not eligible.
The rate relief is designed to help retailers as they adapt to changes in the way people shop - including online shopping.
Coun Jeff Fletcher, St Helens Council’s cabinet member for finance and corporate services, said: “This is a great opportunity for us to get behind our small and specialist local shops. It will support retailers both in our town centre and all the little shopping areas that local people value so much.
“It will really help the sort of specialist small shops which help to make town centres different and attract extra visitors. It will also give them a better chance to compete with some of the big players.
“Usually we can’t do much about the cost of business rates because central government sets the valuations, sets the rates we have to charge. They then take half of it off us.
“We’re grabbing this opportunity with both hands as it gives us an extra direct way of supporting our local small businesses and we look forward to it helping them alongside the many other ways we support them.”