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Photo: Madeline Fening
Nearly 1,000 people attended the Small Business Day event, where guests could network, get connected with marketing resources, and apply for a $10,000 small business grant through Hamilton County.
Hamilton County residents can strengthen their small business or get their idea off the ground thanks to a new county office and grant program.
The Hamilton County Commissioners’ office held its first-ever Small Business Day on May 22 at the Sharonville Convention Center to mark the opening of the new brick-and-mortar Hamilton County Office of Small Business.
The office is located in Norwood at 1776 Mentor Ave. The Hamilton County Office of Small Business is operated by Alloy Development, a commercial capital lender and startup growth lab that provides help with grant applications, business plan development, loan readiness, bid preparation and more.
Nearly 1,000 people attended the Small Business Day event, where guests could network, get connected with marketing resources, and apply for a $10,000 small business grant with the help of coaches to walk applicants through the process and answer questions.
Antoinette Worsham is one of those business owners applying for the grant. She operates two small businesses, one of which is a women’s clothing boutique. Worsham moved her Diva Defined Boutique into a space in the Northgate Mall in November 2022, but she started her clothing business during the height of the pandemic in July 2020. She said the government stimulus checks gave her a chance to invest in Diva Defined.
“I was like, ‘What am I going to do with all this money?’ I don’t have any grandchildren, just a granddog, and I’m a business woman anyway,” Worsham said. “I thought, ‘I’m going to open up a women’s fashion boutique.' I love fashion.”
Worsham credits the Women’s Business Center, the African American Chamber of Commerce, and the Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative for helping her to figure out Facebook marketing and SEO, skills small business owners can get connected with at the new Hamilton County Small Business Office.
“I was able to level up my business and move out of a small suite and into the Northgate Mall,” Worsham said. “I really was able to scale my business just off of Facebook.”
click to enlarge
Photo: Madeline Fening
Antoinette Worsham, owner of Diva Defined Boutique in Northgate Mall, models her personal style at the Hamilton County Small Business Day event at the Sharonville Convention Center on May 22.
This time around, Worsham is hoping the $10,000 Small Business Relief Grant can help her resurrect her other small business, Medical RevCycle Management. She started RevCycle in 2019 but said the pandemic forced her business on the back burner. Worsham said the grant could help jumpstart her marketing and outreach to find new clients struggling to deal with their medical insurers.
“I have a degree in health information management,” she said. “You go to the doctor, we code it, send it off to the insurance company, the insurance company doesn’t pay for some kind of reason, I’m on their back.”
Hamilton County Commissioner Alicia Reece
that in-person assistance for grant applicants is a game changer for small business hopefuls who already have a lot on their plate.
“It can be overwhelming. You can have a great idea but you don’t know how to write a business plan so you can go to a bank or apply for a grant because you’ve got to get the concept on paper, it has to be in a business format,” Reece said. “Coming here today you can get right to the person you need."
The county has $4 million in federal dollars to divide up amongst grant applicants, which Reese said is needed to strengthen the small business economy in Hamilton County.
“If we’re going to be a county for the future, we have to have an infrastructure for small businesses. Anyone who doesn’t have an infrastructure for small businesses, they’re gonna go down,” Reece said. “I grew up in a small business, I understand the challenges.”
Growing up, Reece said her family owned a small advertising and promotion agency, and then a banquet hall.
“There would be days she would come home from work and say, ‘We’re gonna eat beans today because we had to pay our workers,’” Reece said. “I had to learn at the banquet hall, if someone didn’t show up for work, I had to put the apron on.”
- 1 on 1 Business Coaching - Provide coaching on business plans and connections to resources
- Group and Individual Training - Training on targeted topics in group or 1 on 1 settings
- Funding Access - Assistance in identifying funding sources for small businesses
- Incubator Services - Alloy’s Growth Lab provides growth services for tech-enabled start-ups
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Applications for the Small Business Relief Grant are still open and will be accepted through June 20. Click here to review a list
of eligibility requirements for the grant.
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