Launched just one month before the start of the pandemic, these locally-owned businesses may have seen their fair share of struggles but they are transforming the community of Glenville.
Glen Village, an initiative started during Mayor Frank G. Jackson’s administration, is a business incubator created to help entrepreneurs get on their feet while also being mentored by more seasoned entrepreneurs.
Karen Ross, owner of Cleveland Cold Brew Coffee, now has a second shot of running her own business. After launching a coffee shop in the early 2000s then having it close shortly after, she is one of many who are now testing and perfecting their concepts as part of the Cleveland Neighborhood Transformation Initiative.
“Let’s take this day by day,” Ross said. “What can we do today better than what we did yesterday? How can we get people to come out?”
Ross says she considers herself lucky after starting from nothing and everyday she’s been able to maintain.
While the pandemic has brought on challenges to small businesses, it’s also sparked more entrepreneurial spirit as African Americans, women and other minorities look to work for themselves.
Senior Vice President of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, Brian Hall, says that creating stronger businesses in neighborhoods creates stronger neighborhoods.
“We’re going to have a chance to try new things,” Hall said. “We have a load of federal and state funding coming our way, some of it already here. It’s once in a lifetime. As our country’s demographics are changing, we need to have everyone prosperous, not just a certain group of people who are prosperous, and one of the ways is entrepreneurship.”
Hall says if you can rebuild neighborhoods, you can change everything about the city – whether it’s a store, a restaurant, barber shop or a coffee shop.
Ross says that when neighborhoods do better, businesses do better. Then more people will be able to prosper and thrive.
“Maybe try to relive the way things were back in the 50s, 60s, and even the 70s, where there was that pride of ownership,” she said. “Business owners were in the communities and contributed to the community.”