The Port. In 2017, GCRA hired Urban Fast Forward to develop a program that ensures a continuous pipeline of minority retailers and restaurateurs who are ready to succeed. Initially it is envisioned that these businesses will be encouraged to locate in GCRA target communities. Ultimately however businesses locate where they believe they have the best chance to succeed, and all communities are enriched by diversity. Thus, GCRA’s long term objective is a pipeline so strong that placement opportunity is as diverse as the cohort looking to embrace it.
Strategy: The Urban Fast Forward team first set out to develop a deep under-standing of the challenges facing independent minority businesses in both retail and restaurant sectors. Existing research was reviewed. It was also essential to look at the existing ecosystem of services available to such entrepreneurs, both in the Cincinnati region and in peer cities. From there the team conducted a series of stakeholder meetings to gain direct insight into actual challenges and opportunities. Representatives from incubators, accelerators, lenders, landlords, regulators and others were also queried. After reviewing the existing landscape in Cincinnati and peer cities our team discovered gaps in programs built to help entrepreneurs. We uncovered no comprehensive methodology dedicated speciﬁcally to retail and restaurant creation, either in general or minority focused programs. What is needed is a program for retailers and restaurateurs that oﬀers a wide range of information, mentoring and support over a sustained period. Such a program would nurture clients beyond concept development and start up planning and through the challenges which must be overcome to create to a self-sustaining successful and thriving enterprise.