DAYTON, Ohio — The City of Dayton is using $7 million in pandemic recovery funds to help entrepreneurs start or expand street-level restaurants, salons and other small businesses in neighborhood business parks.
what you need to know
- The Dayton City Commission created the First Floor Fund to support prospective and expanding small businesses
- The $7 million loan program is designed to provide opportunities for companies that often struggle to secure loans from traditional credit sources
- Dayton Area Regional Chamber officials see the program as a good thing for individual businesses and the city as a whole
- Funding comes from the city’s nearly $140 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds
The Dayton City Commission on Wednesday approved the creation of the First Floor Fund (FFF) as one of Dayton’s first investments Nearly $140 million Dayton Recovery Fund.
Under the program, the city plans to invest millions of dollars in startups and existing businesses that may have struggled to land traditional financial loans or other funding due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Qualifying borrowers can obtain a combination of primary and forgivable loans for up to 70% of project costs. The loans aim to support those areas where small or new businesses may struggle to cross the finish line, such as: B. new machines, building renovations or working capital, according to the city.
“First floor business owners play an important role in the vibrancy of our city,” said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein. “They help create more walkable places, provide the amenities employers and residents want, and drive development and investment in our neighborhoods.”
Businesses targeted by the First Floor Fund are those commonly found on the ground floor of commercial spaces – restaurants, retail stores, salons, photo studios, fitness centers, etc.
Stephanie Keinath, vice president for strategic initiatives at the Dayton Area Regional Chamber, called the announcement of the plan “great news for Dayton.”
The business ecosystem of downtown and other neighborhoods is “interdependent,” said Keinath. Though small businesses don’t create the same tax base or hire as many employees as larger businesses, these restaurants, saloons, and retail outlets are vital to Dayton residents and employees who work in the city.
“Overall, Dayton supports the region and acts as a catalyst of sorts, drawing people into the heart of our city — to spend their hard-earned cash and enjoy all the amenities the city has to offer,” added Keinath. “So it’s really critical that we continue to support the growth of these small businesses that are truly improving the quality of life.”
Keinath described these customer-centric businesses as often a person’s first point of entry into downtown Dayton or any of its neighborhoods.
“It might mean people coming down to have dinner, to go to a shop, or to have a very unique interaction, but over time all of those interactions add up to a more vibrant community,” she added.
Dickstein challenged the city government to develop the framework for the First Floor Fund program. Real estate developers and the local commercial lending community then reviewed the program before it went to the city commission, the city wrote in a statement.
Funding comes from the $10.8 million Dayton Recovery Plan funding earmarked for the city’s economic recovery initiative. The focus is on projects and investments that address economic disparities and promote the further development of local districts.
Because startups were less likely to receive loans from traditional lenders, these business owners “weren’t able to leverage those relationships when federal Paycheck Protection Program loans became available in 2020,” the city wrote on its website.
The program is open to all small business owners. However, the city’s goal is to provide the necessary resources and opportunities for minorities and women who wish to start or grow a business.
Of nearly 200 of these types of businesses in downtown Dayton, 38% are owned by women and 22% are owned by black or brown people, data per city.
CityWide Development Corp. — a non-profit economic and community development organization — will provide underwriting, administration, management and oversight services for the First Floor Fund program.
applications will be available from mid-October on the CityWide website.
“The First Floor Fund program will make a huge contribution to economic stabilization and access to capital for small retail businesses,” said CityWide President Dan Kane. “This program will help mitigate COVID-related, systemic financing and economic challenges faced particularly by small, women- and minority-owned businesses.”
Todd Kinskey, Dayton’s director of planning, neighborhoods and development, described the fund as a “high priority for multiple public and private stakeholders.”
Program participants also receive additional administrative support offered by organizations including The Hub at the Arcade, the Greater West Dayton Incubatorthe Dayton Human Relations Council, Minority Business Partnership, Miami Valley SBDC, Retail Lab, Launch Dayton and other small business support services.
Keinath believes the program’s support and reduced access to borrowing can boost confidence among business owners who might otherwise fear opening or expanding for fear of a lack of foot traffic or risky credit situations.
“This program truly encourages entrepreneurs, small business owners from minority groups and people who might not otherwise have access to these resources, to grow and expand by giving them the opportunity to tap into resources and exist in a space made for the whole community is very visible and accessible,” she added.
On Wednesday, the city commission also approved the use of funds from the Dayton Recovery Plan to support three businesses and community organizations.
This includes the 6888 Kitchen Food Business Incubator. It will receive $750,000 to support the launch of its first phase – OH Taste LLC’s “Sharpen the Axe” education program for food industry entrepreneurs.
Food businesses established at 6888 Kitchen in the Arcade can then move to brick-and-mortar locations and be eligible for FFF support.
Other funded organizations are:
Dayton Natural History Society – $200,000 for the facility upgrade required to extend the life of the Boonshoft Museum facility.
Omega CDC -$400,000 for asbestos and lead remediation at Fout Hall, land use planning and engineering to promote sustainability, support environmental justice initiatives and prevent flooding on the Harvard Avenue campus in Northwest Dayton.
The City of Dayton expects approximately $138 million in funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) — the largest grant in the city’s history.
It is seen by city leaders as a golden opportunity to invest in minority communities that are disproportionately affected and to address long-standing economic and social inequalities in Dayton. City leaders have voted to use these funds to address infrastructure, economic and equity issues.
To date, the City Commission has allocated $9.4 million in Dayton Recovery Fund grants and contracts — the first few were approved just about a month ago.
For more information, see daytonohio.gov/arpa.