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Business Retention Support

Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce provides business retention support for members. We seek to maintain strong, sustainable businesses and increase employment opportunities, while animating the streets and sidewalks of OTR. Our goals include:

  • Making referrals to resources and information that will strengthen business operations 
  • Providing contacts to lending organizations
  • Inspiring collaborative relationships between businesses, residents and strategic partners
  • Providing information on available commercial (retail and office) space in OTR
  • Connecting businesses with trained employees


Over-the-Rhine Business Innovation Challenge. Check back for a future deadline date, TBA.

In April 2014 at its Annual Meeting of the Members, the OTR Chamber announced a new program, the Business Innovation Challenge. Administered by its Business Attraction and Retention Committee, the program seeks to award $1,000 grants to businesses with an innovative idea for how to spend it, with a focus on growing new products and services in Over-the-Rhine. All existing businesses located in Over-the-Rhine (as defined by the City of Cincinnati) are eligible.

Suggested innovation ideas include: a focus on expanding the business with equipment, promotions, etc.; enhancing the customer experience; or funding a project or service the business would like to launch. Applicants submit a one-page application (or a one minute video) to explain the vision along with the application fee. All application fees are rolled into future Innovation Challenge grants.

In its first round of applications, seventeen (17) businesses applied. The Committee evaluated each application and considered innovation, business growth, execution, and impact. It ultimately selected two businesses: Steam Whistle Letterpress and We Have Become Vikings.

Future Business Innovation Challenges deadlines are planned, and the Committee will announce the next deadline soon.

Partner Organizations

There are several partner organizations you should be aware of whose missions support business attraction and attraction efforts in our city.


Business Coaching Referrals

Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) offers one-on-one business coaching and is the volunteer arm of the Small Business Administration that has the skills and experience to help in all aspects of small business, such as marketing, operations and accounting. Visit

ArtWorks Co.STARTERS is a 9-week business development program for creatives, artisans, and lifestyle entrepreneurs 

Bad Girl Ventures is an educational and micro-finance organization dedicated to inspiring and supporting women entrepreneurs in all the key elements of their business. BGV enables female entrepreneurs to build and sustain well managed, profitable businesses through guidance, education and access to capital. Bad Girl Ventures combines micro-lending with a nine week business development course.

MORTAR trains entrepreneurs in underserved communities, offering these non-traditional entrepreneurs the opportunity to use their inherent talents to not just make a dollar, but to positively participate in the rise of Cincinnati.

Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative (GCMI) offers an Entrepreneurial Training Academy, technical assistance and business education classes (including financing). Call (513)569-4816 or visit for more information.

Financial Resources

The Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce extends partnerships, contacts and our relationships to other organizations and financial institutions to support OTR merchants and businesses.

Bad Girl Ventures is an educational and micro-finance organization dedicated to inspiring and supporting women entrepreneurs in all the key elements of their business.

Hamilton County Development Company (HCDC) is a full-service business development agency having a public purpose to retain and create jobs, and improve the local economy. These three program areas provide business financing, community economic development, and assistance for entrepreneurs. Call (513) 631-8292 or visit for more information.

Lifespan's SmartMoney Community Services provides financial services and economic education to underserved individuals in Over-the-Rhine. Contact Smart Money Community Services, at (513) 241-7266 or visit for more information.

SBA Express Loans allows owner-operated business to obtain loans with lower down payments and lower interest rates. SBA Loans are administered by HCDC. Contact HCDC at (513) 631-8292 or visit for more information.

“Grow Cincinnati Fund” encourages the expansion and increases the capacity of small business by providing debt financing and access to technical assistance. Funding is available through the City of Cincinnati to successful growing or qualified emerging small businesses.

Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative (GCMI) Loan Fund was created to increase the number and capacity of for-profit businesses, operated by low-to-moderate income individuals. The maximum loan term is 5 years (60 months). The interest rate will be in relationship to prime based upon risk, term and conditions. Call (513)569-4816 or visit for more information.


Focus on Employees

Looking for qualified, experienced employees? Needing tips on how to conduct interviews or on training employees resources? OTR has several organizations that train and match skilled workers with jobs.

Super Jobs Center- Business Services Unit is located at 1916 Central Parkway, and is part of the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services. Super Jobs provides employers with assistance posting current job openings, reviewing resumes, finding employees for current job openings, reporting new hires and the labor market, tax credit programs, and unemployment compensation. Contact Super Jobs Center at or call (513) 458-6140.


JobsPlus Employment Network provides employment and enrichment programs free to those in need, and acts as a no-cost human resources department for local companies seeking quality employees.


Power Inspires Progress operates as an educational program to provide on-the-job training to inner-city residents. If you need employees for restaurant, coffee house, catering or food service, contact PIP at

Cincinnati State Culinary School can provide your company with an excellent pool of highly qualified job candidates for independent restaurateurs to corporate, institutional and large scale hospitality recruiting. Contact (513) 569-1621 for more information.

Cincinnati Cooks! is a job training program affiliated with the Freestore Foodbank. If you need employees for restaurant, coffee house, catering or food service, please contact Cincinnati Cooks at (513) 651-0700.


For more information, please go to our Business Resources page for a list of organizations that provide financial and technical services and networking opportunities to take your business a step further.