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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 a difficult and time-consuming process, but there are so many resources that are available to help you through the process. Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal documents. Many questions will arise during the process so be sure to consult these resources when making important decisions.


Below, we have compiled organizations and events to assist you in starting a Cincinnati small business or nonprofit and succeeding.   See below for a list of resources. The information in this article is as current as the publication date. Readers are encouraged to confirm the information prior to acting.  

 Add your Black-owned business to The Voice of Black Cincinnati.  

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513 Small Business Assist
All eligible small businesses can receive one-on-one support with grant applications, business planning, marketing, access to funding, and much more.

Access Business Development and Finance
Exists to guide growing small businesses on their journey of expansion and development by focusing on experience, persistence and innovation for the purpose of helping clients achieve business goals and objectives.

Chase Bank SBA Loan Programs
Their SBA loan programs include 7(a) Business Loans, Express Term Loans, and 504 Loans.

Fifth Third Bank Small Business Financing
Committed to working with small businesses to give them the greatest 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.

HCDC Lending
HCDC finances the expansion of growing businesses through the SBA 504 loan program and other long-term, fixed-rate financing tools used to purchase real estate and equipment  

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.

KeyBank SBA Loan Programs
Operating as a leading SBA Preferred Lender, their SBA loan programs include 7(a) Business Loans, 504 Loans, CAPline, and Express.

PNC Bank SBA Loan Programs
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 General Small Business Loans, Disaster Loans, Microloans, and Real Estate and Equipment Loans.


Develop new leadership skills to strengthen your staff and grow your business.  


Business Development
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
Provides resources regarding starting a business and finding qualified workers and a searchable links database is in development.

City of Cincinnati Business Resources
Resource categories include topics on Doing Business in Cincinnati, Doing Business with City Government, Business Services and Incentives, and Green Business.

HCDC Economic Development
HCDC strengthens communities by retaining, expanding, and attracting businesses to Hamilton County, Ohio with financing, incentives, and expert technical assistance.

The Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative
An entrepreneurial education program that provides Entrepreneurship Education, Small Business Training, Business Coaching, and Access to Capital

Minority Business Development Agency
Works 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, confidential business counseling to small businesses and conducts a variety of educational seminars on establishing and managing a successful small business or nonprofit.

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

StartupCincy is a community of entrepreneurs, BigCos, educators, investors, creatives, and enthusiasts. 


Earn extra cash while you start your business.  



City of Cincinnati Department of Economic Inclusion Business Certification Programs
Administers three business enterprise programs with a total of five certification types. The goal of these programs is to expand opportunities for small, minority-owned, and women-owned businesses as both 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) is established to ensure 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.


Find finance books from Cincinnati authors.


There is an abundance of information and resources regarding starting a small business, but useful information on starting a nonprofit is harder to come by. Here we have compiled a 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.

Serves as a central coordinator and mobilizer to help nonprofits achieve greater collective impact in local communities across the country. They identify emerging trends, share proven practices, and promote solutions that benefit nonprofits and the communities they serve.

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. Starting a Nonprofit
Starting a nonprofit is an exciting and rewarding opportunity, but it can also be challenging. Find valuable information and services to help through the process at


There are resources and events for every type of small business or nonprofit that fits your passion. Be sure to reach out to neighborhood business associations and districts for additional support and resources. If there are other resources for starting a Cincinnati small business or nonprofit that we have missed, please contact The Voice of Black Cincinnati.


Starting a Cincinnati Small Business © [Drobot Dean] /Adobe Stock

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 posting, 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

President of The Voice of Your Customer and founder of The Voice of Black Cincinnati.