When neighborhoods are growing, a lot of planning goes into renovating historic buildings and creating magnificent green spaces that look awesome in the background of social media selfies – while little attention is paid to the existing residents of these now flourishing areas. In the same way that these locations have the potential to become booming communities, MORTAR believes that the neighborhood’s residents have the potential to create booming enterprises – just footsteps from their homes.
With Cincinnati’s Over-the-Rhine neighborhood rapidly transitioning into one of the most promising neighborhoods in America, and Walnut Hills being called our city’s next revitalization story, MORTAR fulfills its purpose by building on these successes through focusing on those who are often ignored. By targeting underserved and redeveloping communities, we’re offering these non-traditional entrepreneurs the opportunity to use their inherent talents to not just make a dollar, but to positively participate in the rise of Cincinnati.
We believe that entrepreneurship can change lives. When people have ownership in an area, they also have pride. This pride then manifests itself in the way that the residents become involved in their neighborhoods; no longer feeling like spectators watching life happen from the “cheap seats” – but instead taking the field, making plays as productive members of society.
Cincinnati ranking on household median income gap out of 77 US metropolitan cities (National Urban League “State of Black America” report).
Million dollars has been invested in downtown Cincinnati and Over-The-Rhine by 3CDC since 2004.
Highest income inequality of more than 61,000 communities nationwide (OTR Census tract 17).
Honestly, it can be very difficult for urban entrepreneurs to start or maintain existing businesses – especially without a business background or access to resources. In a lot of areas around Cincinnati, the development moves so quickly that for small business owners, it may feel like catching up – or keeping up is an impossible goal. We’ve implemented a nine-week entrepreneurship course designed to help low-income urban entrepreneurs build or expand their dream businesses, giving them the tools to help them grow with their neighborhoods.
The curriculum we use was first proven and pioneered by LAUNCH Chattanooga targeting a similar demographic. Cincinnati has definitely already benefited from our entrepreneurship program, leading to improved quality of life, business ownership, job creation and a flourishing local economy. While we work primarily in the Over-The-Rhine and Walnut Hills areas, we believe that the MORTAR program will have a ripple effect in surrounding areas, becoming a magnet that draws in entrepreneurial students from all around Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, therefore having an even broader reach and impact. Through education, guidance and mentorship, we will be able to effectively challenge the perceptions of how entrepreneurs are built and what their legacies will become.
Build a comprehensive business canvas, learning the nuances of business management.
Launch businesses that create jobs and circulate dollars locally.
Gain access to new customers and opportunities for additional funding.
Connect with seasoned business leaders who provide mentorship during the 9-week course (and beyond).