How Euclid, Ohio is filling vacant Main Street storefronts to recover from the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about huge retail vacancies in downtowns throughout america. These vacancies are arduous sufficient to fill in beforehand thriving city areas, not to mention in already struggling Rust Belt areas and small cities. But Euclid, Ohio—a majority-Black Rust Belt metropolis of 47,000 individuals, situated on Lake Erie simply east of Cleveland—is testing a inventive strategy to filling its vacant storefronts and paving the way in which for enterprise districts of all sizes to get better and develop from inside.  


Euclid is working towards each financial revitalization and inclusive outcomes by supporting native Black- and Latino- or Hispanic-owned small-scale manufacturing companies on its Main Street. Metropolis officers are main this holistic effort, which has 4 key parts: 1) coaching aspiring retail enterprise homeowners in small-scale manufacturing; 2) figuring out versatile industrial areas; 3) offering focused hire subsidies; and 4) selling the area and the companies in it. If profitable, this effort has the potential to construct wealth and alternative amongst traditionally excluded residents whereas supporting a extra vibrant downtown.  

Why small-scale manufacturing issues for equitable development  

Startups and new companies generate just about all web job development in America. These typically start as home-based companies, and people which might be profitable transfer into industrial areas.  

But Black, Latino or Hispanic, Asian American, and different enterprise homeowners of coloration face vital limitations to development, together with lack of entry to capital and the necessity to depend on private funds, credit score challenges due to historic inequities, and the disproportionately damaging influence of the pandemic on their companies. These components create even higher obstacles for a home-based microbusiness to develop right into a storefront. 

By supporting Black- and minority-owned small-scale manufacturing companies, cities and cities can construct an inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem and obtain neighborhood revitalization. Small-scale producers make merchandise which might be offered in storefronts and on-line—suppose scorching sauce, purses, or {hardware}. They typically develop from one-person enterprises to having a number of workers, which means they are often an vital native supply of jobs. They typically have manufacturing and retail in the identical area, making them a draw for guests who can see issues being made, which contributes to a way of downtown connection and vibrancy. Moreover, small-product companies typically develop instantly from native residents and entrepreneurs dwelling inside disinvested areas, making them a super enterprise sector for increasing extra equitable outcomes in entrepreneurship.  


Small enterprise homeowners at a vacation market in Euclid. Supply: Metropolis of Euclid.

For these causes, town of Euclid determined to hitch the Recast Leaders 2021 cohort—an intensive, “get-it-done” program that my group, Recast Metropolis, runs to advance small-scale downtown manufacturing. Over the past 12 months, Euclid’s mayor and different officers labored to determine small-scale producers of their metropolis, perceive their wants for development, and implement particular short- and long-term actions to assist this enterprise sector and produce extra power and commerce to downtown.  

How to develop small-scale manufacturing from the bottom up   

Step one in rising small-scale manufacturing is to evaluate residents’ wants and practice aspiring retail companies in abilities pricing, advertising and marketing, e-commerce, distribution, and different points of working a product enterprise. Town of Euclid started this effort by conducting interviews and small group discussions with native entrepreneurs to determine their challenges. They used “connectors”—people who find themselves identified and trusted in the neighborhood—to search out enterprise homeowners outdoors of the normal financial growth lists and who’ve by no means benefited from native applications nor been related to applications at a neighborhood chamber of commerce or Small Enterprise Growth Middle. Their engagement with aspiring enterprise homeowners discovered that many home-based entrepreneurs wished to develop their companies however didn’t have the experience or situations to scale to retail areas.  

To handle this hole, town ran a small enterprise competitors, Recast Small Enterprise, in 2021 and supplied winners with a four-week on-line enterprise readiness course and the chance to entry versatile sub-leasing preparations to transition their enterprise right into a storefront. Of the 20 native product enterprise homeowners that participated within the competitors, town chosen six companies—all owned by individuals of coloration—as winners.  

Subsequent, metropolis officers wanted to determine versatile, reasonably priced industrial area that graduates of the enterprise readiness course might use to transition their enterprise right into a bodily storefront. To take action, town shaped a public-private partnership with a downtown property proprietor to create storefronts that supply versatile retail area for small-scale manufacturing. This yr, town took a grasp lease on 4 vacant adjoining storefronts and established a $165,000 fund to subsidize the hire—enabling metropolis officers to supply versatile sub-leasing preparations to graduates of the enterprise course and supply them with below-market lease charges in smaller areas with shorter leases. The storefronts are presently being renovated and 5 product companies have been chosen for the areas after they’re prepared. Town has already began advertising and marketing these companies in newspaper profiles, on town web site, in social media, and on the metropolis’s vacation celebration as specifically invited distributors.  

Now, Euclid is constructing on the momentum of this primary challenge by changing a part of a former downtown college right into a shared kitchen for meals entrepreneurs. The college is presently being revitalized and is estimated to be prepared later this yr.  

Civic management is important for fulfillment  

Euclid’s expertise demonstrates the significance of metropolis management—particularly the mayor’s hands-on involvement—in advancing small-scale manufacturing on Main Street. As a result of sheer variety of shifting items that must fall into place—the entrepreneurs that have to be recognized and engaged, traditionally excluded communities reached, downtown property homeowners engaged, metropolis budgets invested, areas created and crammed, and collaborating companies promoted—assist on the highest degree of metropolis authorities is essential.  

As native leaders search to refill America’s vacant downtown storefronts, small-scale manufacturing is a vital device to take action equitably. Due to the assist of devoted civic leaders, Euclid is displaying {that a} Rust Belt metropolis can level the way in which.  

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