From BBQ sauce to Peruvian pop-ups, a record number of small businesses opened in Ohio amid pandemic

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Posted at 6:45 PM, Jun 08, 2021

CLEVELAND — Aurzee Davis' culinary kick-started early and now she's kicking it up a notch.

“I’ve always liked to cook, from fast food to anything — if I could get my hands on something to cook I would do it,” said Davis. “So I thought this would be a great opportunity, great door opener for me, so I’m just trying to take it to the next level."

That opportunity was the creation of her own brand of barbeque sauce.

During a pandemic, while some may think entrepreneurship is at all-time low, it’s at an all-time high.

“I’m ready to put it out there and let people experience something new, not the regular barbeque sauce, said Davis. “I’m just ready to show people something different from a Black woman that produced it made it and stayed up long nights putting in the work for it."

According to the Ohio Secretary of State, new business filings were higher in 2020 than 2019 —` more than 171,000 in 2020 compared to 130,000 the year prior.

This past April, monthly business filings surpassed 20,000 for the first time in state history.

Asahi Pompey with Goldman Sachs helps mentor a lot of Northeast Ohio’s small businesses through its 10,000 small businesses program.

“What we found is that when the economy turns down, small businesses turn up,” said Pompey. “They see opportunity."

Jose Portillo is taking the opportunity to test the entrepreneurial waters, too; he's working a pop-up Peruvian restaurant at Edwin Too's community kitchen in Shaker Square.

Portillo said his current goal is to go from pop-up to permanent.

“At some point, I would love to open a small restaurant, but this is a way of having Edwin’s as a pop-up restaurant is a really good start,” said Portillo.

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