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business first grant

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    From dreary to dreamy, Over-the-Rhine is now one of Cincinnati’s most desired neighborhoods. We chat with the OTR Chamber to learn about some of the newest (and soon-to-open) shops in the neighborhood and the special ways they’re celebrating the holidays this year.

    Cincinnati's Over-the-Rhine neighborhood boasts a recent renovation and plenty of new businesses for Cincinnatians.
    Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood boasts a recent renovation and plenty of new businesses for Cincinnatians.

    Over-the-Rhine has quickly become one of Cincinnati’s most popular neighborhoods. It’s undergone a major transformation over the last several years to becoming a hotspot for young professionals, families, and new businesses alike.

    Emilie Johnson, President of the OTR Chamber, says that in the last 12 months, they’ve welcomed a total of 45 new businesses to Over-the-Rhine. From wine bars to jewelry shops and fashion boutiques, there’s a little bit of everything in OTR, she says.

    “Warm up with a glass of wine at Skeleton Root, an OTR urban winery, shop at Lane & Kate/Two Little Buds for jewelry or pick up a beautiful, handmade wreath and even make your own bouquet of cut flowers, find that perfect gift for the chef in your or take a cooking class with a friend at Artichoke, or book at table at Please,” says Johnson.

    To help businesses continue to grow and expand, the Over-the-Rhine Chamber has an Innovation Challenge. This challenge, says Johnson, encourages business owners to submit a one-page application, or a one-minute video, to explain their vision for changing their business, whether it be an expansion using equipment or promotions, enhancing the customer experience, or another idea a business would like to launch.

    With the video and application fee, the Chamber can then select, and providing funding to, the selected businesses to help them grow.

    There are also other challenges, programs, and initiatives that the OTR Chamber puts together to help bring more businesses to the neighborhood.

    bgv_ad_2The new year will be the 10th year for the Business First Grant, the Chamber’s signature program. Over the last decade, the program has allowed the Chamber to grant out more than $425,000 to 29 businesses.

    To enter for the next deadline, be sure to submit information by December 6.

    When asked about what makes her the most excited about the growth and change in Over-the-Rhine, Johnson says it’s the continued support the businesses receive from each other.

    “While the neighborhood continues to grow with new small businesses, there is a very small-town feel, and the small business owners are supportive of each other and work hard toward the same end,” she says. “There is so much potential and more work to be done!”

    If you’d like to check out what Over-the-Rhine has to offer before the holidays arrive, check out OTR aGlow, which the Chamber is co-hosting with Chris Glass.

    On Thursday, December 8, the event will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Park + Vine. The event will include a meandering through the streets of Over-the-Rhine while the storefronts are lit up with creative displays for the holiday season.

    “We’ll gather at dusk inside Park + Vine and then head out to explore the architecture and sights of the historic area,” says Johnson. To RSVP for the event, click here.

    To learn more about new businesses, events, and programs in Over-the-Rhine, visit