Looking to start or grow your own small business?

The Department of Community & Economic Development’s Small Business Team has a new resource to help small businesses find local resources that provide funding, counseling, events, training, space, certifications, and mentorship. Click on the link below to get started.

Cincinnati Commercial Tenant Improvement Program

*UPDATE: Cincinnati’s Commercial Tenant Improvement Program applications closed on Monday, September 18th, at 5 P.M*

Grants up to $20,000 for tenant improvements to small businesses (1) relocating to Cincinnati, (2) opening a new business in Cincinnati, or (3) expanding within Cincinnati. Applications are available starting August 1, 2023. The deadline to apply is 5:00 PM (EST) on Monday, September 18, 2023.

To apply, email a complete application to DCED at communitydevelopment@cincinnati-oh.gov, OR drop off your application in person to the Department of Community and Economic Development:

Two Centennial Plaza
805 Central Avenue, Suite 700
Cincinnati, Ohio 45202

Learn more:

Tenant Improvement Program – Overview

Some of the small businesses assisted over the years…

MicroCity Loan

This fund provides small business loans up to $35,000 and is used to encourage expansion by providing “gap” debt financing.

 For-profit businesses with five or fewer employees that have adequate historical or projected cash flow. The owner may be one of the employees. 

 Loan proceeds may be used for any legitimate business purpose including: 

• Permanent working capital
• Machinery and equipment
• Tenant improvements
• Construction/renovations.
• Acquisition of real estate. 

MicroCity Fund loans cannot be used to refinance existing debt. 

Loans are for eligible Community Development Block Grant Entitlement Program activities that meet National Objectives for job creation/retention, low or moderate income area benefit or prevention/ elimination of slum and blight. 

 Borrowers must:
• Comply with City environmental requirements.
• Maintain the business within City limits for the entire loan term.
• Demonstrate the ability to repay the loan within a reasonable time period. 

 • Social service agencies
• Religious institutions
• Non-profit service providers
• Private clubs with membership restrictions
• Venture capital investments
• Any use prohibited by City, state, or federal regulation or law

Grow Cincinnati Fund

This fund provides capital for fixed assets, working capital and eligible refinancing to small businesses located in Cincinnati. It is designed to encourage expansion and to increase the capacity of the city’s small businesses by providing gap debt financing and access to technical assistance.

• Low equity requirements.
• Terms up to 25 years for real property improvement.
• Can provide permanent working capital.
• The business must have a financing need of at least $100,000.
• Nonprofits, real estate developers, and investment advisory firms are ineligible. 

• Working capital
• Machinery & equipment
• Tenant improvements
• Renovations
• Acquisition of real estate
• Refinancing debt

 • Loan term equal to the life of the assets being financed
• Low equity requirements (10% for real estate acquisition, 0% for all other eligible uses)
• Variable or fixed interest rates, generally below market rates
• Flexible underwriting criteria
• Limited pre-payment penalties

• Any owner with 20% or more interest must provide a personal guarantee.
• A loan must be collateralized, to the extent possible, with available assets.
• Demonstrated ability to repay a loan with existing and projected cash flow.
• A for-profit business that has been operating for two or more years. 

Small Business Funding Resources

If you are a small business struggling due to the after-effects of the pandemic, there is assistance available.

The resources and information available below are intended to support small businesses, help Ohio communities, and ease the burdens of Ohio families. Click on the links for more information.

Small Business – 513 Relief

Small Business Relief: Investing in Ohio’s Future

New Loan Programs to Help Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses

  • Women’s Business Enterprise Loan Program: These loans will be offered at or below market rate and currently are up to 3%. The minimum loan amount is $45,000 up to a maximum of $500,000. Loans will be repaid within 10 years for equipment and machinery and 15 years for owner-occupied real estate. Businesses must be 51% ownership and controlled by women or be certified as a Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE).
  • Ohio Micro-Enterprise Loan Program: These loans will have a 0% interest rate. The minimum loan is $10,000 up to a maximum of $45,000. Loans will be repaid within five years for permanent working capital and seven years for equipment. Businesses must be certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) or a Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE)

The loan programs will be administered by the Ohio Department of Development (Development) through the Minority Business Development Division. It joins four other capital programs offered by Development: the Ohio Minority Business Bonding Program, the Ohio Minority Business Direct Loan Program, the Collateral Enhancement Program, and the Ohio Capital Access Program.

Information about the loans, including program guidelines and fact sheets, can be found online at Minority.Ohio.Gov

Click on Access to Capital on the left side of the webpage to find a list of all the Minority Division’s financial resources.

For more information or to start the application process, email MinorityBizFinance@Development.Ohio.Gov.

OpenCincy Business Portal

The OpenCincy tool identifies and estimates the permits, licenses, and fees needed to open or expand your business in the City of Cincinnati.

Calculate my permits

Women, Minority & Small Business Enterprises

In conjunction with the City of Cincinnati Department of Economic Inclusion, we work to identify opportunities for minority business enterprises (MBE), small business enterprises (SBE), and women business enterprises to do business with the City. The Department of Economic Inclusion has created a certification process to ensure that these enterprise groups can participate in as many projects as possible; not just as subcontractors, but as prime contractors. APPLY HERE

Department of Economic Inclusion General Inquiries