City Grant for Small Businesses Has Cincinnati Pop-Up Shop Bursting at Seams

The newest business in Cincinnati is bursting at the seams, thanks to a grant from the city’s Department of Community and Economic Development which has enabled a woman entrepreneur to join the ranks of neighborhood pop-up shops.

Prior to her grand opening a couple of weeks ago, Corless Berry had operated her boutique, ChoZen 4 U, out of her home, where an inventory of unique, high-quality affordably priced apparel had begun to take over her living and dining rooms.

Berry said the grant, which offers up to $1,000 to small businesses to help with rent and non-structural needs, will give her the opportunity to pursue her passion and impact women and their style of dress in a much larger space.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of and, said  identifying funding other than loans can be a challenge for small business owners.  The SBA doesn’t give grants to start or expand most businesses. Through the SBA limited grants are available for exporting, as well as research and development.  

Small businesses, particularly, those that will aid the community, can find grants from federal, state and local agencies, as well as foundations and corporations on, powered by GrantWatch. 

Grants are available to for-profit organizations across the United States for agricultural or health-related research, creating educational opportunities in computer science for PreK-12 students, or for developing certificate and training programs in worker safety and health, among others. Local grants are generally less competitive and can be applied to a variety of initiatives including the purchase of new equipment, advertising and marketing, product launches, upgrading technology, hiring additional employees and expanding inventory.

Many city officials including leaders in Cincinnati believe that small businesses are still the engines for local growth and have incorporated creative new ways into their economic development strategies to promote more fledgling enterprises.

From Los Angeles to London, pop-up shops emerged on the small business landscape almost two decades ago to help ambitious online merchants thwart the spiraling costs of rent. Since then, entrepreneurs have taken advantage of closed urban storefronts to establish temporary sites to showcase products — often those from large and established brands – reach new customers and test a unique physical environment.

The Cincy Pop Shop program was established two years ago to connect entrepreneurs, artists and small businesses owners with local property owners to fill vacant spaces and activate neighborhoods across the city. The grants provide low-risk support for owners who have had trouble finding accessible, affordable and flexible space needed to create and expand their small businesses

Similar approaches have popped up elsewhere including Battle Creek, Mich., where the city’s Small Business Development Office has purchased seven shipping containers, each about 160 square feet, to be used as retail space. The BC Pop-Up Shops is a pilot program that hopes to give startup businesses a softer entry into the downtown market by reducing the cost to operate within the district. Each shop, which will be outfitted with electric heating and air conditioning and interior and exterior lighting, will lease for $1,645 for an entire seven-month period and include utilities and membership in the Battle Creek Area Chamber of Commerce. The goal is for participating shops to eventually transition to more permanent locations in Battle Creek.

For-profit entrepreneurs, startups and small businesses, particularly minority and women-owned, frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at When you subscribe to either or, you are given access to both websites.

About the Author: Staff Writer for GrantWatch


Report:Millennial Entrepreneurs Starting More Businesses at Earlier Age than Baby Boomers

Millennial entrepreneurs are starting more businesses at an earlier age than their parents, and managing bigger staffs and targeting higher profits than their baby-boom predecessors, according to the 2016 BNP Paribas Global Entrepreneur Report.

“The trend we have noticed is that you can succeed earlier,” said Remi Frank, global head of a key client group at BNP. “Before, you needed to be 40 or 50. Then it was 30 to 40. Now it’s 20 to 30. This is a trend which is obvious everywhere. Of course, it’s linked to the new technologies, but it’s also a change in the world, which [now] accepts that you can be the CEO of a big company or own your own company at a young age.”

Arkansas Capital is encouraging the next generation of young entrepreneurs to follow millennials by creating a competition to develop their business of college-level forward thinkers. “The Governor’s Cup” challenges teams of undergraduate and graduate students to bring business ideas and talents to life. Cash prizes are awarded to first, second and third place winners in both the undergraduate and graduate tracks.

Millennial entrepreneurs, nonprofits, public and private foundations, and small businesses frustrated by the often-overwhelming process involved with searching for grants can identify funding opportunities that are easy to read and simple to comprehend at

Sign-up here so you too can receive the GrantWatch weekly grants newsletter prepared specifically for your organization's location.

About the Author: A graduate of Suny Albany, Lianne Hikind is a staff writer for


Minneapolis Cost Sharing Program Encourages Local Small Businesses to Go Green

When customers ask about the solvents he uses on their clothes, Tyler Avestini eagerly comes clean. The owner of Avestopolis Dry Cleaners says his cleansing agents not only leave clothes bright without shrinkage, but also protect the environment.

Three years ago, Avestini became the first recipient of a Minneapolis city grant that provided him with $20,000 to purchase technology that reduces the amount of pollutants emitted at his dry-cleaning business. That grant from Minneapolis’s Green Business Cost Sharing Program and a low-interest loan from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to finance the remaining $50,000 he needed to buy the new dry-cleaning equipment has helped Avestini eliminate 1,000 pounds of perchloroethylene each year. 

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of, said the Green Business Cost Sharing Program is also open to Minnesota auto repair shops to help them switch to cleaning and painting alternatives and repair processes that reduce hazardous waste, emissions, and energy usage. She said the grant application can be found at, a service of GrantWatch that lists business grants and government contracts, particularly for women and minorities.

In 2015, Ramin Hakimi, part-owner of Oscar Auto Body in Minneapolis, used the money from the Green Business Cost Sharing Program to install a paint booth that both improved the indoor environment and the quality of his work. He said he couldn’t believe the city offered him a grant to pay for roughly half the cost of the booth.

Since the green business matching grant program began a few years ago, more than a dozen businesses have participated. The city has offered dry-cleaning businesses up to $35,000 to purchase equipment that uses alternatives to perchloroethylene or "perc" – a commonly sued solvent and probable carcinogen.

New perc-eliminating machines typically run about $100,000, a cost that can be prohibitive for a small business, said Lisa Bender, Minneapolis City Council President. But the Minnesota incentive program offers grants in which the city pays for a third of the cleaner technology and the business chips in the other two-thirds.

Avestini said the program “has been a win-win for everybody” including his environmentally-conscious customers, who keep coming back, and Minneapolis, which became the first major city to eliminate the use of perc.

Dry-cleaning workers who routinely breathe excessive amounts of solvent vapor or spill perc on their skin are at risk of developing health problems, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Minneapolis city officials estimated that the grant program would reduce air pollution last year by nearly 120,000 pounds alone and carbon dioxide by another 16 million pounds.

MWBEzone, a service of, provides the most up-to-date list of for-profit contracts and grants for entrepreneurs and small businesses, especially minority- and women-owned enterprises. Sign-up here for a subscription to MWBEzone, which also provides access to thousands of unique and current funding opportunities on


About the Author: Staff Writer at