With more than 500 small businesses, Cleveland Heights is the epicenter of small, locally owned businesses in Northeast Ohio. In order to support the City’s existing small businesses and remain a premier location for new entrepreneurs to locate, the City has developed an Economic Development Toolbox to meet the financing needs of this demographic.
As part of the new City-wide Community Reinvestment Area Program (CRA), commercial and mixed-use projects are now eligible for property tax incentives for both new construction and remodeling/renovation, provided they meet certain criteria, and subject to the terms of a development incentive agreement required to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis with the City and Cleveland Heights-University Heights School District. Businesses and companies interested in property tax incentives should consult the CRA webpage for the program guidelines and are highly encourage to contact the Economic Development Department early in the planning process to discuss their project.
The Commercial Loan Program provides gap financing on a project in conjunction with a bank loan and owner equity. A typical breakdown of a project would be: 50% bank loan, 35% City loaned funds and 15% owner equity. As a federally funded program, projects must create one to low moderate income job for every $35,000. This program is ideal for financing real estate, equipment or other fixed assets.
The Storefront Rehabilitation Program is targeted towards transformative exterior improvements of buildings in commercial districts. It combines rebates of up to $25,000 and no interest loans of up to $100,000. Also included is free design services from consultants contracted by the City.
An underutilized program that the City is placing emphasis on is the Microenterprise Loan Fund. Microenterprises are defined as small businesses with five or fewer employees, one of which is the owner. The program is targeted towards entrepreneurs and startups who might not yet be bankable for traditional commercial bank financing. Loans are typically in the $5,000 range up to a maximum of $10,000.
The City recently added a new SBA Grant Program in partnership with funding from Cuyahoga County. This program provides a forgivable loan/grant (up to 15% or $50,000) to a business as part of a project involving an SBA loan. The grant serves as an equity infusion to make the project more attractive to banks doing SBA loans and allow the business to keep more cash on hand for operating expenses. A typical deal structure for this program would be: 75% SBA loan, 15% equity grant, 10% owner equity.
For projects that don’t easily fit into any of the above programs, the City also has an Economic Development Fund. This fund provides more flexibility than some of the other programs for high impact projects the City wants to support.
For more information about Cleveland Heights' business development programs, please contact Brian Anderson at 216-291-2617 or firstname.lastname@example.org.