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Release Date: March 3,2020

Downtown Akron Partnership Seeks Business Owners and Entrepreneurs for Start Downtown Program

Akron—Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) announced the launch of its Start Downtown program for small businesses. The project, funded by Burton D. Morgan Foundation, will assist business owners, entrepreneurs and property owners in matching businesses with appropriate storefronts and office spaces in downtown Akron. Start Downtown is part of DAP’s larger strategy to enhance the ecosystem of storefronts, businesses, organizations and attractions in the city’s 42-block Special Improvement District. Applications for the Start Downtown program open today, Tuesday, March 3, 2020.


Photograph of small businesses, L-R: Northside Cellar, Chill Ice-Cream, The Experience Barber and Beauty Shop, Sweet Mary's Bakery. Photography: Shane WynnDAP Director of Business Development Laura Engle said, “DAP is committed to helping build a more vibrant downtown that is a place for all people. With Start Downtown—in alignment with Opportunity Akron and the Elevate Greater Akron Strategy—we are looking to work with 3 to 5 businesses or entrepreneurs, prioritizing minority-owned and women-owned businesses.”


Start Downtown is a 6-month program providing site selection assistance, rent and marketing support to qualifying new and expanding businesses seeking locations in retail or office space in downtown Akron. The program is an updated version of DAP’s Pop-Up Retail program, which brought over 40 retail businesses into dormant downtown spaces, activating empty storefronts and enriching the district with additional reasons to spend time downtown.


An alumnus of the earlier iteration of Start Downtown, DeShawn Johnson, owner of The Experience Barber and Beauty Shop said, “Being a part of DAP’s Pop-Up Retail program was crucial for us. It helped us manage the unexpected things that can and do come up when you start a business.”


Business owners and entrepreneurs interested in participating in the program should complete the initial application available on Application review will begin Monday, March 9, 2020. For more information, contact Laura Engle, Downtown Akron Partnership,, 330-374-7562.