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Small Business Grants In Cincinnati

Written by: Jody Adams
Last updated: January 31, 2024

A Cincinnati small business grant might be available in 2023 if your company's revenues were significantly affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Just like individual grants, small business grants provide monetary relief to companies that have been severely affected by financial hardship due to this public health emergency.

What Is A Grant?

A grant is generally understood as an award from a public authority or agency to support the creation of a new product, service, or project; unlike a loan that the government backs, a grant does not have to be repaid. Since grants don't require repayment, they are beneficial to small businesses in managing business expenses.

Even though applying for and administering grants can be time-consuming and lengthy, they are an important tool for growing your business. It is essential to be aware of the application deadlines, as grant applications for competitive grant programs can take quite some time. You will need to show that you have the resources to build a successful business and can meet the lending body's requirements to apply for a grant for your small business. The federal government, state and local governments, charities, government agencies, and foundations administer many government grants programs, often providing essential technical assistance during the application process.

Moreover, training programs and business financial management workshops are sometimes offered to enhance business growth.

Cincinnati Small Business Grants

Small business grants are available to eligible businesses of Cincinnati for various purposes. The following Cincinnati small business grants may interest you in 2023, especially if you are aiming to increase your annual revenue through a strategic business enterprise initiative.

Hamilton County Small Business Relief Grant Program

Hamilton County, Ohio, created the Hamilton County Small Business Relief Program to assist small businesses that have faced economic hardships due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, this program aims to enhance access to capital for struggling companies. Small businesses that qualify may receive up to $10,000 to cover some eligible expenses. Grant funding is based on the revenue loss between 2020 and 2019 (up to a maximum of $10,000) based on the loss of revenue.

Hamilton County's business applicants interested in receiving funding from the program must submit a an online application within the application period along with other required documentation and demonstrate that it has met the requirements of the CARES Act and complied with state and federal guidelines.

Disadvantaged businesses, including those owned by minority entrepreneurs, might find these programs particularly beneficial, enhancing their business ownership experience by mitigating some financial challenges.

Greater Cincinnati Small Business Response and Recovery Initiative and PPP Access

To support Hamilton County small businesses facing the challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greater Cincinnati COVID-19 Small Business Response and Recovery Initiative has been launched. Join the rapid business assessment to receive one-on-one business advice, business ideas, guidance, and supportive services.

Urban League of Greater Southwest Ohio

Women business owners and minority business owners, particularly small black and brown businesses and sole proprietors operating or planning to operate in the coming year, are eligible for the Resiliency Fund. Various tiers are available to assist minority-owned businesses in bridging the financial gaps caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic, which has disproportionately impacted minority-owned businesses.

New Loan Programs to Help Minority- and Women-Owned Businesses

A particular focus has been placed on women business enterprise and minority-focused funding options. Together with the Cincinnati Department of Economic Inclusion, we work to identify opportunities for minority-owned businesses (MBEs), small businesses (SBEs), and women-owned businesses to do business with Cincinnati. These efforts not only provide essential financial support but also create a robust framework for the continued development and stability of these profit businesses.

Women’s Business Enterprise Loan Program

The interest rates will be below the market rate and are up to 3% now. The minimum and maximum loan amounts are $45,000 and $500,000. For equipment and machinery, the loan will be repaid in 10 years, while for owner-occupied real estate, the loan will be repaid in 15 years. Women must own or control 51% of their businesses or be certified as Women-owned Small Businesses (WOSBs).

Ohio Micro-Enterprise Loan Program

There will be no interest on these loans. The minimum loan amount is $10,000, and the maximum loan amount is $45,000. In the case of permanent working capital, loans will be paid back within five years, and in the case of equipment, within seven years. Certified Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs) and Women-owned Business Enterprises (WBEs) are required.

The Minority Business Development Division of the Ohio Department of Development will administer the loan programs. The program joins four others offered by Development: the Minority Business Bonding Program, the Direct Loan Program for Minority Businesses, and the Collateral Enhancement Program.

Visit Minority.Ohio.Gov for information about these loans, including guidelines and fact sheets. 

Ohio Micro-Loan Program

Micro-loans at 0% interest are provided as part of this program to encourage the growth of new and existing businesses. A minimum loan amount of $10,000 and a maximum loan amount of $45,000 are available. For permanent working capital, the loans will be repaid within five years, and for equipment, within seven years.

Women’s Business Enterprise Loan Program

To encourage the growth of women-owned businesses, this loan program provides loans at market rates or below market rates (currently up to 3%). The minimum loan amount is $45,000, and the maximum is $500,000. Repayment of equipment and machinery loans will take ten years, and repayment of owner-occupied real estate loans will take fifteen years.

Cincinnati Chamber Foundation Grant

A generous grant from the Johnson Foundation, a nonprofit organization, will enable the Cincinnati Chamber Foundation to launch a $100,000 grant program for businesses that are small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses, and plan to open within downtown, Over-the-Rhine, or Pendleton. By supporting the program, we hope to revitalize vacant retail storefronts in the center city, create new jobs, and promote minority- and women-owned businesses.

An application review committee consisting of the Cincinnati Chamber and the Johnson Foundation will review all applications to determine eligibility and grant amount. According to the size and scope of the new business and business opportunities, grants between $5,000 and $10,000 are available. A targeted business adds to the neighborhood's vibrancy through retail, restaurants, and customer-facing businesses. Applicants must open a business in less than 90 days following the grant award and be women-or minority-or LGBTQ-owned. Applicants must be based in the areas of the Central Business District, Over-the-Rhine, or Pendleton.

For this grant, a business must meet the following requirements:

  • A lease must already have been signed with a landlord before a business can accept the grant. This information should be included as part of the grant application.
  • To qualify, the business must be owned by a woman, a minority, or an LGBTQ individual who will open a storefront location within 90 days of receiving the grant award.
  • Applicants must locate businesses in the Central Business District, Over-the-Rhine, or Pendleton neighborhoods.
  • The committee will make awards monthly, and grant applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.
  • The Cincinnati Chamber's website will host applications for grants.


As part of its Changemaker grant program, Kroger supports Black-owned businesses in Ohio. They provide funding directly to nonprofits that offer services essential to entrepreneurship in Ohio. Several organizations plan to launch grant programs to collaborate directly with diverse businesses in the Cincinnati area.

Black small business owners in the Cincinnati area have access to funding through FundNoire. Kroger's charitable foundation funds part of the program, including $1.5 million for qualifying companies. Local entrepreneur Rico Grant established this fairly new program. Several startups and early-stage companies are expected to receive funding from the organization during its inaugural funding round.

Cincinnati Grant Watch

Visit the Cincinnati Grant Watch website to learn more about Cincinnati's non-profits and grants. This Cincinnati Grant Directory includes more than 28,420 grants (some of which will be available in the next few days) and funding opportunities across the nation, including federal, state, and local government grants.

Access to this information is only available to those with a paid subscription, which also requires payment. This subscription costs $18 per week; for an annual payment plan, it costs $199. Limited access is available with the free membership. The details of grants are not available to free members, nor can they apply for them.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What types of small business grants are available in Cincinnati?

There are several types of small business grants available in Cincinnati, including city-funded grants, state-funded grants, federal grants, and grants from private organizations or non-profits. Some popular grant programs include the Cincinnati Access Fund, Ohio Development Services Agency programs, and the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) grants.

How can I find and apply for small business grants in Cincinnati?

To find and apply for small business grants in Cincinnati, you can start by visiting the official websites of relevant city or state agencies, such as the Cincinnati Access Fund or Ohio Development Services Agency. You can also explore federal grant opportunities at Additionally, consult your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC) or the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for guidance.

Are there any eligibility requirements for small business grants in Cincinnati?

Eligibility requirements for small business grants in Cincinnati vary depending on the grant program. Typically, you must be a registered business in Cincinnati, meet specific size standards, and demonstrate financial need or a commitment to creating jobs or economic growth. Some grants may also require businesses to operate in specific industries or locations.

Do I need a business plan to apply for a grant?

Most grant programs, including those for small businesses in Cincinnati, require a comprehensive business plan as part of the application process. A strong business plan demonstrates your business's potential for success, growth strategy, and how the grant funds will be used effectively.

How competitive are small business grants in Cincinnati?

Small business grants in Cincinnati can be competitive, as there is often a limited pool of funds available and many applicants. It is essential to research and apply for multiple grants, ensuring that your application and business plan are as strong as possible to increase your chances of success.

Also Learn about Small Business Grants In Texas

Branching out or considering a move? Discover opportunities beyond Cincinnati by checking out our guide on grants available specifically for Houston small businesses. Diversify your grant knowledge for greater success!

Are you interested in learning more about different grants and programs that can help you with your living situation? Check out the rest of Gov Relations’ blog section today!

Jody Adams
Jody Adams is an accomplished editor-in-chief with a deep understanding of social care and government benefits issues. With a background in journalism and a master's degree in Public Policy, Jody has spent her career shaping the narrative around social policies and their impact on society. She has worked with renowned publications, effectively bridging the gap between complex policy analysis and public understanding. Jody's editorial expertise ensures that vital information on social care and government benefits reaches a broad audience, empowering individuals to make informed decisions.
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