Apply now for Downtown Dayton Retail Lab

Small business with dreams of operating in downtown Dayton? Apply now for round two of the Downtown Dayton Retail Lab!

After a successful first-round of the Retail Lab small business accelerator program, The Downtown Dayton Partnership, along with its small business development partners, is inviting business owners to apply to the second session of the program. The Retail Lab is an intensive 12-week experience for business owners aiming to launch or grow their first-floor business in downtown Dayton, and applications will be accepted through Feb. 3.

The Retail Lab has two main goals: To continue energizing downtown with vibrant storefronts, and provide a supportive pathway into the downtown market for emerging first-floor entrepreneurs, especially women-owned and minority-owned businesses.

“As we emerge from the pandemic and the impacts of the economic shutdown, there is an opportunity to take new business ideas and budding entrepreneurs and show them the support network available in our community to grow or launch their own commercial ventures,” said Sandra K. Gudorf, Downtown Dayton Partnership president.

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. Weekly workshops will 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 February 3, with the program slated to begin later in February.

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, and The Hub at the Dayton Arcade.

“In 2020, the first cohort of 11 Retail Lab participants experienced how a community of entrepreneurs and resources can take an initial business plan to the next level of success, and we look forward to providing that same opportunity to a new group of Dayton entrepreneurs,” said AJ Ferguson, project manager with the DDP and coordinator of the Retail Lab program.

“The Retail Lab experience has given our business the necessary tools to make sure we are set up to succeed, and the opportunity to work with other businesses and collaborate on ways we can support each other,” said Vanessa Llyod, a previous Retail Lab participant and owner of A+ Cleaners in downtown Dayton.

Participation in the 12-week program is provided at no cost, and 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.

Questions about the Retail Lab should be directed to AJ Ferguson, ferguson@downtowndayton.org, or call (937) 681-9793.

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