The Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber is taking new steps to support local business districts across the Tri-State region.
Tuesday the Chamber, in partnership with Duke Energy, launched "Storefronts to the Forefront," a program aimed at promoting local businesses in 11 different business districts.
“Storefronts to the Forefront is really our effort to remind everybody that these businesses that give your community the character and the appeal need to be supported in very deliberate ways right now,” said Jill Meyer, president and CEO of the Chamber.
Targeted neighborhoods include Bellevue, East Price Hill, Fort Thomas, Loveland, Ludlow, Madisonville, Milford, New Richmond, Norwood, Reading and Walnut Hills.
“(We’re) really zeroing in to find some of those business districts where the need is there, where there is a diversity of businesses, where the neighborhoods and communities they are serving are critically important,” said Meyer.
Business owners in those neighborhoods will be offered a year's membership to the Chamber, as well as mentorship opportunities, marketing and promotion.
“Awareness and visibility is the thing I am most concerned about,” said Brian Jackson, CEO and co-owner of Esoteric brewery in Walnut Hills. “A lot of times people will look at Walnut Hills as the second Downtown of Cincinnati, but it just doesn’t have the foot traffic right now.”
Jackson opened up his brewery in September of 2020, during the height of the pandemic. He said it’s been a challenging year.
“A lot of times we can’t really project what’s going into happen,” he said. “What we have to do is just adapt and pivot.”
Down the street, Daisy Jane’s Flower Bar also opened a Walnut Hills storefront during the pandemic.
“I think the biggest challenge going through this pandemic is the constant pivot in just trying to understand where your customers' minds are at, what they want. What we’ve got to do to get people in the doors and get sales,” said Megan Moore, owner of Daisy Jane’s.
She also hopes the program can bring more exposure and foot traffic to the Walnut Hills business district.
“I think anything that can be done to get more exposure,” said Moore. “Businesses are moving in here, but I think the pandemic has slowed that progress. So it’s not like this, boom, look what’s going on here, we’ve got a ton of foot traffic.”