CLEVELAND — With more than 30 million of them the United States, small businesses – as is often said – make up the backbone of the economy. However, running a small business, let alone starting one, requires a tough chin. In order to help aspiring entrepreneurs in the Cleveland area, the Tremont West Development Corporation is offering its storefront on Professor Avenue as part of its business incubator program.
The 400 square foot storefront is in the heart of Tremont, flanking some of the area’s destination shops and restaurants. The location has built-in marketing opportunities and comes rent free for the first three months. The remaining seven months of the lease will be $400 per month for the winning applicant.
By offering the opportunity but with less risk than a traditional small business start-up, the program can help an entrepreneur determine whether the business venture is feasible.
“Maybe people have an idea for a business but they’re not sure if it would work in a retail situation. They’d like to try it out without putting too much capital forward,” said Michelle Davis, the assistant director for Tremont West. “It really helps them focus in on their business and not stress as much about making rent each month.”
At the end of the ten month lease, the small business owner will work with Tremont West to find a location in the neighborhood and continue operation. Businesses with existing leases in Cleveland will not be considered unless compelling evidence can be given.
The program also intends attract businesses with specific needs that don’t duplicate current businesses in the area. The winning applicant will also receive ongoing support from the Hispanic Business Center, which will lend its expertise in business development and accounting.
“It gives them a little bit of space and get their business going. We also have people that work with them in their business plan and work out the kinks of their business,” said Khalid Hawthorne, the housing and economic development director at Tremont West. “Running a small business is extremely difficult. You are everything in a business. You are the CEO, the trash man, accountant, everything. We want to be a springboard.”
Although any reasonable business venture idea will be considered, the storefront cannot accommodate kitchen or bar operations, hair salons or businesses that require significant renovation needs. Scoring will be based on five criteria: project vision, neighborhood need, neighborhood impact, business experience, business plan, financing and whether it is a complete proposal.
Proposals are due April. Click here for more information.