Thanks to a Duke Energy Grant, HCDC was able to combine efforts with the Mt. Healthy Renaissance Project to help small businesses by combining business retention and coaching. “One of the biggest things we learned thanks to HCDC’s efforts is that we have more thriving small businesses in Mt. Healthy than meet the eye. We have a base of anchor businesses and vitality that will be a great foundation moving forward with the city’s effort to bring in more businesses to the district,” says Karen Arnett, with the Mt. Healthy Renaissance Project, a community development corporation.
HCDC’s Catherine Fitzgerald met with 20 businesses to gather their impression of the business climate. While most businesses reported significant advantages to doing business in Mt. Healthy, they also reported that the decline in retail destinations has contributed to reduced foot traffic in the district. Mt. Healthy leaders are aware of the decline and commissioned the assistance of the Urban Land Institute’s Cincinnati District Council. Through funding from Hamilton County, Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) was conducted and the city is reviewing and prioritizing the recommendations made by the TAP.
HCDC Business Coach Bob Pickford worked with Goodie’s Barbecue owner Anthony Dickerson, to improve accounting and internal controls and to take better advantage of financial reports in managing the business. He worked with Mr. Dickerson to develop an annual budget. The coach also supported Mr. Dickerson’s efforts to plan, renovate, and open a second restaurant in Hamilton, OH, currently scheduled to open in May or June 2017.
Another example of HCDC coaching services is Mr. Pickford’s work with Hilltop Glass & Mirror. He worked with owner Cindy Jurcenko to successfully open a new business called Hilltop Glass Creations, in October 2016. The new business is a creative glass studio offering instruction and classes to the public. The new business, in an adjacent retail space, complements Ms. Jurcenko’s original business, Hilltop Glass & Mirror, which was founded by its original owners in 1954. HCDC also helped arrange design consulting that provided suggestions for improving the facades and curb appeal of both retail locations.
HCDC met with 15 different Mt. Healthy businesses for a combined 64 coaching sessions. These businesses included: Goodie’s Barbecue, Hilltop Glass & Mirror, Kiwi Boutique, Letter Perfect Embroidery & Gifts, Little Dutch Bakery, Moody Insurance Agency, Mt. Healthy Alliance, Mt. Healthy Renaissance Project, Paul R. Young Funeral Home, Running Creek Farm, S&S Professional Cleaning, Tikkun Farm, and Village Cafe.
In addition to helping facilitate the small business coaching sessions with HCDC, the City of Mt. Healthy also has focused on building renovations in the business district. One project is the Main Theater, a historic theater building in the hub of the Mt. Healthy business district. The building was operated by the same family from 1915 to 1971, and recently was acquired by the city. “This is a combined effort by the City of Mt. Healthy and the Mt. Healthy Renaissance Project on renovating this property and turning it into a multipurpose entertainment venue that will become a destination in the Greater Cincinnati area,” continues Arnett.