The city of Akron, Ohio, has launched a new program with a two-fold purpose. In an effort to both support small businesses and fill its own empty storefronts in the city’s retail district, it has launched the “Rubber City Match” program.

Aimed at properties in Akron’s Great Streets neighborhoods, the new program offers a wealth of opportunity and guidance to new business owners. It will provide technical assistance, financial aid and vacant retail properties. In addition, it will feature four award levels with up to $100,000 in grants to be awarded in the first program year.

How businesses will be scored

Businesses are to be scored for participation and grants on five criteria. First, they must provide a vision and plan. Likely, the city will be looking for a distinctive business purpose with a long-term plan in place. The business owner should be able to pitch a viable vision. Second, experience and capacity will be considered. The city will look at a potential business owner’s track record.  Does this person have any experience in running a successful business? Does this person possess the knowledge needed to operate a long term, successful business? These questions will likely be asked during consideration. The third consideration will be market opportunity. Is the proposed business one that will likely thrive and be able to sustain itself in the Akron area?  A fourth consideration will be community support and leverage of investment. Will the business be one that others will want to invest in, and likely see a return on investment? Finally, the business must agree to locate within the city of Akron for a minimum period of two years, and provide a benefit to that community.

Deadline extended due to COVID-19

While applications were originally to be accepted until early April, due to the threats of COVID-19, the application deadline has been extended to May 8, 2020. In what has become an uncertain and challenging time across Ohio, the country and the world, this is an exciting opportunity for small business owners in the Ohio area to produce a smart, well laid out business plan.