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Start your small business or nonprofit in Cincinnati.

Resources for Starting a Cincinnati Small Business

Business banking lenders, incubators, and more.  

Find what you need to start a nonprofit.

Available certifications and business training in Cincinnati.  

Starting a Cincinnati small business or nonprofit can be difficult and time-consuming, but many business assistance resources are available to help small business owners.

Starting a business and being a small business owner involve planning, making critical financial decisions, and completing a series of legal documents. Many questions will arise during the process, so consult these resources when learning how to start a business, make important decisions, and grow your business.

Below is a compiled list of organizations and services to help entrepreneurs succeed in starting a Cincinnati small business or nonprofit. Business advice is all around, making business ownership far within reach.

The information in this article is as current as the publication date. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information before acting.  

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Finance/Credit

In Cincinnati, a network of small business financial resources is ready to assist entrepreneurs, offering funding opportunities, grants, and expertise.

Access Business Development and Finance

Lenders partner with Alloy to help small businesses get long-term, fixed rates with low down payment financing for their commercial real estate and equipment needs.

Chase Bank SBA Loan Programs

Their SBA loan programs include 7(a) Business Loans, Express Term Loans, and 504 Loans. SBA loans can be used for many purposes, including launching or expanding a business, purchasing inventory or equipment, or consolidating high-interest debt.

Fifth Third Bank Small Business Financing

Committed to working with small businesses to give them the most excellent chance for success by providing resources regarding banking, borrowing, cash management, and more. Their SBA loan programs include 7(a) Business Loans, 504 Loans, CAPline, Express, and Veterans Advantage.

Huntington Bank SBA Loan Programs

Operating as the #1 SBA lender in the region for many years, their SBA loan programs include 7(a) Business Loans, 504 Loans, and Express Loans. They have a proven track record of helping business owners get the capital they need to open, acquire, or expand a small business.

KeyBank SBA Loan Programs

Operating as a leading SBA Preferred Lender, their SBA loan programs include 7(a) Business Loans, 504 Loans, CAPline, Express, international trade, and export express.

PNC Bank SBA Loan Programs

SBA financing is designed to provide small businesses with access to credit featuring structures and terms that may be more flexible than conventional lending options. Their small business loan programs include 7(a) Business Loans, 504 Loans, Express, Export Express, and Veterans Advantage.

Small Business Administration Loan Program

SBA offers a variety of loan programs, such as 7(a) Business Loans, 504 Loans, and Microloans.

woman working at a small business
Business advice is all around, making business ownership far within reach for entrepreneurs in Cincinnati.

Business Development

Discover a wealth of small business development resources in Cincinnati, tailored to help entrepreneurs thrive in the Queen City’s vibrant economy.

Business.Ohio.gov

The 1st Stop Business Connection provides free state-level information needed to start or continue your entrepreneurial journey. This resource provides online resources, hiring and training, filings and payments, licenses and permits, laws and regulations, environment, financial assistance, and doing business with the state.

Cincinnati Regional Chamber Workforce Innovation Center

Performs comprehensive assessment services, offers practice recommendations based on data analysis, and develops an effective implementation plan. The experienced consultants also provide additional human resources and organizational development solutions.

City of Cincinnati Business Resources

Find helpful information about doing business in Cincinnati, whether you’re a startup, a small business, or a major corporation. Resource categories include topics on Doing Business in Cincinnati, Doing Business with City Government, Business Services and Incentives, and Green Business.

The Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative

The Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative is an entrepreneurial education program designed to help Individuals and small business owners develop and recognize opportunities for their businesses. The program provides Entrepreneurship Education, Small Business Training, Business Coaching, and Access to Capital.

Minority Business Development Agency

The Minority Business Development Agency is the only federal agency solely dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises. They work throughout the Nation to link minority-owned businesses with the capital, contracts, and markets they need to grow.

Ohio SBDC at the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati

Provides comprehensive business management and education services and offers free, confidential, in-depth, one-on-one counseling and low- or no-cost training.

SCORE Greater Cincinnati

Provides free business one-on-one or team counseling for existing and new businesses, free to low-cost business workshops, and free local and national business resources.

Small Business Administration

Provides valuable information and resources on starting a business, business structure, permits, financing, growing, and managing a business.

StartupCincy

Access the best hustle advice, motivation, information, and connections year-round. StartupCincy is a community of entrepreneurs, BigCos, educators, investors, creatives, and enthusiasts.

small business construction worker
Consult these Cincinnati small business resources when learning how to start a business, make important decisions, and grow your business.

Related Article: Cincinnati small business resources are available today for your business.

Certification/Training

The following small business training and certification resources in Cincinnati are designed to equip local entrepreneurs and their teams with the knowledge and skills needed to excel in their ventures.

City of Cincinnati Department of Economic Inclusion Business Certification Programs

Administers three business enterprise programs with a total of five certification types. These programs aim to expand opportunities for small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses as subcontractors and prime contractors on City projects.

Department of Veteran’s Affairs Verification Program

Offers the Vets First Verification Program for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) set-aside and sole-source contracts.

Ohio Department of Administrative Services MBE and EDGE Certification Programs

Strives to maximize contracting opportunities through certification of minority-owned, women-owned, veteran-owned, and socially and economically disadvantaged businesses with the Minority Business Enterprise Program (MBE) and the Encouraging Diversity, Growth, and Equity Program (EDGE).

Ohio Department of Transportation DBE and SBE Certification Programs

The Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Program (DBE) applies to federal-aid highway dollars expended on federally-assisted contracts issued by USDOT recipients. The Small Business Enterprise Program (SBE) ensures that small businesses receive fair opportunities to participate in ODOT contracting and consulting activities. Certification with the Ohio Minority Supplier Development Council as an MBE provides valuable resources to help small businesses grow and succeed.

Ohio Turnpike Office of Equity and Inclusion

Works to ensure that minority and disadvantaged businesses have an opportunity to transact business by providing applications to become certified as an SBE, MBE, or DBE.

Small Business Administration HUBZone

The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.

Women’s Business Enterprise National Council

WBENC Certification validates that the business is 51 percent owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women and gives women-owned businesses the ability to compete for business opportunities provided by WBENC Members and government agencies.

restaurant owner
Many resources and events are available for every type of small business or nonprofit that fits your passion.

Nonprofits

Information and resources regarding starting a small business are abundant, but valuable information on initiating a nonprofit is harder to come by. Enjoy a compiled list of some of the best resources to assist in every stage of starting a nonprofit.

Grants Resource Center for Nonprofits

Provides visitors with free public access to grantmaker directories, books on fundraising, proposal writing, and nonprofit management, as well as the Foundation Center’s electronic databases.

Ohio Grant Watch

Provides subscribers with the opportunity to find grants for a nonprofit, 501c3, NGO, education, religious or community organization, government agency, or small business.

Ohio Guide to Starting a Nonprofit

The Ohio Secretary of State’s office authorizes companies to do business in Ohio and strives to make the filing process as straightforward as possible. This guide aids in the process of starting a nonprofit.

OneSource Furniture Bank

OneSource Center doesn’t just provide advising and training to help take your business to the next level – it’s also a place you can step into to shop for items to create an updated physical space—Common Good Store.

Related Article: Job assistance and workforce development programs

Many resources and events are available for every type of small business or nonprofit that fits your passion. Contact neighborhood business associations and districts for additional support and help. If there are other resources for starting a Cincinnati small business or nonprofit that we have missed, please contact The Voice of Black Cincinnati.

Written by: Crystal Kendrick

The Voice of Black Cincinnati is a media company designed to educate, recognize, and create opportunities for African Americans. Want to find local news, events, job postings, scholarships, and a database of local Black-owned businesses? Visit our homepage, explore other articles, subscribe to our newsletter, like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and text VOBC to 513-270-3880.

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Written by Crystal Kendrick

Crystal Kendrick is the publisher of The Voice of Black Cincinnati. With a vision to educate, recognize and create opportunities for African Americans in the region, Crystal oversees all content creation and publication, ensuring each piece aligns with the outlet's mission to inform, engage, and inspire. A lifelong advocate for community engagement and empowerment, Crystal's leadership steers The Voice of Black Cincinnati toward being a pivotal platform to find community resources, local Black-owned businesses, culturally relevant events, jobs with equal opportunity employers and scholarship for higher education. Connect with Crystal on LinkedIn to explore her experiences and contributions to Cincinnati's media landscape.