April 22, 2015

Congratulations to ­­­­The City of Cleveland on being selected as a semi-finalist in the Creative Finance Category for the NDC Academy Awards 2015. The NDC Academy Awards Semi-Finalists represent some of the most innovative and impactful developments changing the lives for residents in underserved communities across the country, NDC is honored to highlight the achievements of these organizations at the NDC Academy 2015.

Small Business Entrepreneurship at the 5th Street Arcades  – Cleveland, OH

Located in the heart of Downtown Cleveland along one of Euclid Avenue’s most prominent stretches, the former Colonial and Euclid Arcades, built over 100 years ago during Cleveland’s industrial power, were once a largely vacant and underutilized building in 2012. Recently, Cumberland Development LLC, the project developer, rebranded and redeveloped this historic building, taking abandoned space that was almost 60% vacant in 2012 to nearly 100% occupancy today. The Arcades are almost entirely occupied with tenants (one vacant storefront) with local retailers, merchants, cafés and sustainable start-up businesses. Over the past year, the 5th Street Arcades have become a retail incubator in Downtown Cleveland. The project has brought critical retail and life back into the core City. Cumberland Arcades, LLC was formed to manage and develop the old Colonial –Euclid Arcades. Due to the high vacancy, the City of Cleveland, Downtown Cleveland Alliance, Charter One Bank and the developer came together to create  a small business grant competition for small locally-owned entrepreneurs to apply for grant funding, free or low rent and forgivable loans. Five applicants were initially selected and received grants from $1,500 to $5,000. After the branding was approved, new improvements were made to the historic building including new lighting and signage. The initial entrepreneurs opened their businesses which included a chocolatier, a furniture maker that made all of their products from reclaimed wood; a sushi café, a retailer that makes hand-woven baby clothes from organic cotton; and a coffee shop featuring locally made bakery. The initial opening of the start-up businesses led to additional entrepreneurs filling the vacant storefront spaces.  Today, the 5th Street Arcades are made up of a diverse group of businesses which includes minority-owned, female-owned, LGBT, and immigrant businesses.  Except for one challenging storefront, the building is full.

The project, which is almost fully leased and occupied except for one storefront, is a big success to bringing retail back to Downtown Cleveland. The project has created 115 new additional jobs in the heart of the City along Euclid Avenue. Many of the jobs are the entrepreneurs that own and operate their business. One of the female-owned businesses, Sand Buffie Design, relocated from Charleston South Carolina with her husband to take advantage of the opportunity to start her dream business.  She also currently resides in Downtown with her husband and walks to work every day to operate her boutique. The entrepreneurs that opened the shops are a diverse group of individuals representing minority-owned businesses, female-owned business, LGBT-owned businesses and immigrant businesses that have come from all corners of the globe. The entrepreneurs support one another at the 5th Street Arcades by shopping for their goods and services. The culture, skills, and the backgrounds of the individuals are reflective in many of their business concepts.  The goods that are locally-made and sold are one of a kind and cannot be purchase anywhere else. The economic benefits of the dollars that are earned by the entrepreneurs recycle back in the community vs if the stores were operated by only minimum wage employees of national chains. All of the businesses are locally-owned, no national chains. By repurposing and rebranding the building, new life has been brought to the space. The architectural design of the interior and exterior provides a new home for the “retail incubator.“ Prior to this project, the building was was mostly used by office workers as a pass through during inclement weather to connect from one block to the next.  Today, it is a retail destination that has provided employment opportunities for those starting a new business.

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