Ohio City Incorporated works increase awareness of businesses from the street

Business Assistance

Neighborhood Retail Assistance Program (NRAP)

The Neighborhood Retail Assistance program (NRAP) is structured to provide access to capital to small retail-related businesses and targets projects which will upgrade the exterior appearance and feel of retail districts. The program offers low interest loans up to $40,000 with up to $3,000 of that loan forgivable if certain green building methods are utilized.

Program Contact Information
OCI Staff Contact:  Nate Lull -216.658.3059 or nlull@ohiocity.org

City Contact: Kevin Schmotzer – 216.664.3720 or kschmotzer@clevelandohio.gov

Storefront Renovation Program (SRP)

The City of Cleveland Storefront Renovation Program offers financial incentives (rebate and/or loan) combined with free City design assistance to applicants considering an exterior rehabilitation of a commercial structure. Applicants of SRP may also be eligible for the Ohio City Incorporated Neighborhood Development Program, contact Ohio City Incorporated for more details. Combining financial incentives with free design and technical assistance provides opportunities to rehabilitate entire building facades and create dynamic signage. Please contact Nate Lull at nlull@ohiocity.org to learn more.

Building Eligibility
To qualify for the Storefront Program Rebate or Loan Incentive, buildings must fall into at least one of the following categories:

  • Traditional commercial buildings (originally built with display windowed storefronts)
  • Commercially zoned retail structures
  • Commercially zoned service buildings

Certain building types are not eligible for the Storefront Renovation Program. They include, but may not be limited to:

  • Entirely residential buildings
  • Schools
  • Industrial buildings
  • Strip shopping plazas
  • Arcades
  • Malls
  • Churches
  • Any structure used for sacred purposes

Comprehensive Building Rebate - Storefront Renovation Program

Rehabilitating the storefront and façade of your building not only improves its value, but can also raise the rates for which you rent your space. The Comprehensive Building program of SRP offers a 40% rebate of up to $25,000 on all eligible exterior improvements.  Eligible improvements are limited to rehab costs for work done to the main elevations commonly seen by the public. Typically eligible costs include:

  • Storefront Display Windows
  • Upper-floor windows
  • Doors
  • Painting or cleaning treatments
  • Above-ground masonry repairs
  • Lighting
  • Exterior security systems
  • Awnings
  • Signage
  • Landscaping and irrigation systems
  • Decorative fencing
  • Architectural fees up to $3500

Costs not eligible for comprehensive building program include:   

  •  Interior Construction (Exceptions Apply)
  • HVAC or mechanical systems
  • Parking lot paving and drainage
  • Below-grade foundations (loan eligible)
  • Flat roofs (loan eligible)

Signage Only Rebate - Storefront Renovation Program

A major study titled “Research on Signage Performance” conducted by the University of San Diego looked at the economic benefits of on-premise signage and the financial performance of independent retailers in commercial districts found installation of professional quality on premise signs can increase retail profits up to 23.7%. Further, the study documents that on-premise signage is the most cost-effective means of advertising for small businesses when looked at on a cost per 1,000 exposures of a message basis (which is the standard measure of cost of media). Free design and technical assistance partnered with a 40% rebate up to $3,000 can help small business owners get quality and dynamic signage.

Program Contact Information
OCI Staff Contact: Nate Lull -216.658.3059 or nlull@ohiocity.org

City Contact: Laura Bala, Storefront Coordinating Consultant – lmb4130@gmail.com

Ohio City Small Business Development Fund

In an effort to improve the public realm and invest in small businesses moving to and operating in the Ohio City Neighborhood, Ohio City Incorporated has raised funds to be used in partnership with the City of Cleveland Storefront Renovation Program, this fund is called the Ohio City Small Business Development Fund. To date over 30 businesses have used this program utilizing over $85,000 from the fund to leverage nearly $120,000 in City funding which has led to over $400,000 in Neighborhood investment. Please note that use of this program is dependent on funds being available, please contact Nate Lull at nlull@ohiocity.org to learn more.

Permanent and professional signage and the appearance of its storefront have an impact not only on a business’s bottom line but also on the perception of the Neighborhood.  The City SRP offers a 40% rebate on signage up to $3,000. This rebate typically arrives 4-6 weeks upon completion of the project. The Ohio City Small Business Fund matches the City SRP with an additional 40% grant up to $3,000. In an effort to make this type of signage more attainable to businesses the Ohio City funds can be issued up front as a grant to help cover the costs of a down payment after the business owner has signed their contract with the City. By combining these two programs businesses can have 80% of the cost of their signage covered up to $6,000.

This Fund can also be used in conjunction with the City of Cleveland SRP Comprehensive Building renovation program for property owners, but due to the size of the City rebate, OCI cannot offer a  dollar for dollar match of this program. Grant participation is dependent on the level of private investment and the impact of the project in the Neighborhood, but do not exceed $10,000.

Ohio City Bike Rack Grant Program 

Another goal of the Small Buisness Fund is to encourage Ohio City businesses to support alternate modes of transportation. Thus Ohio City Incorporated is pleased to partner with Rust Belt Welding by offering up to 50% of the costs of bike racks for businesses up to $500. Please note that businesses are responsible for acquiring all necessary permits. Please contact Nate Lull at nlull@ohiocity.org to learn more.