The Downtown Dayton Partnership (DDP), along with its small business development partners, is inviting business owners to apply to the first session of the Downtown Dayton Retail Lab, an intensive 12-week experience for business owners aiming to launch or grow their first-floor business in downtown Dayton.
The Retail Lab has two main goals: Continue energizing downtown with vibrant storefronts and unique restaurants, and provide a supportive pathway into the downtown market for emerging first-floor entrepreneurs, especially women-owned and minority-owned businesses.
“The small businesses that line our streets and sidewalks provide the amenities that make downtown so attractive to residents, visitors, and employers,” said Sandra K. Gudorf, president of the DDP. “We are excited to offer the Retail Lab to support and accelerate these businesses as they emerge from the economic shutdown.”
Each round of the Downtown Dayton Retail Lab will provide a series of workshops, pitch events, and pilot opportunities that connect the participating businesses to the people, ideas, capital, and resources that will help them thrive and grow in downtown Dayton. Workshops will generally be held virtually and include facilitated instruction, work sessions with mentors, and occasional in-person activities with appropriate health precautions.
Eligible businesses include boutiques, shops, cafes, studios, and restaurants – any consumer business that adds to the vibrancy of downtown’s sidewalks. Applicants should either be located in downtown Dayton or aiming to launch downtown in the next 6 to 12 months. Interested small business owners can find more information, including the program application, at DowntownDayton.org/retail-lab. Applications for the Downtown Dayton Retail Lab will be accepted through July 14, with the program slated to begin in August.
The Retail Lab leverages support from many business resource partners including The Entrepreneurs Center, the Miami Valley Small Business Development Center, Five Rivers MetroParks – 2nd Street Market, Launch Dayton, CityWide Development, and The Hub at the Dayton Arcade.
“Our community has an exceptional network of resources and mentors who are ready to help business owners succeed,” said AJ Ferguson, project manager with the DDP and coordinator of the Retail Lab program. “The Retail Lab assembles them into a course that will challenge business owners to make a substantial push to improve or launch their downtown store.”
The Retail Lab is offered at no cost for these small businesses. In addition to the support businesses receive through the workshops, each participant is eligible for up to $2,500 in professional services from creative, legal, and financial firms to advance their business.