Release Date: May 3,2021

Mayor Horrigan Announces Rubber City Match Applications Open Today - May 3, 2021

The successful initiative returns to pair new and existing businesses with financial aid, technical assistance, and vacant retail properties

Akron, Ohio, May 3, 2021 — Today, Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan announced that applications are now being accepted for the second round of the Rubber City Match program. Rubber City Match is designed to pair new and expanding businesses with Akron’s top real estate opportunities, providing funding and technical assistance along the way.  Applications will be open through June 30, 2021. Grants will be available through the program, in addition to business-friendly loans that will assist with launching businesses, renovations or other related expenses.

Entrepreneurs looking to start or expand their businesses often face three major hurdles: lack of training to create retail ready businesses at a meaningful scale, finding the right space for their business, and finding the necessary funds to open. Rubber City Match aims to help entrepreneurs overcome these major hurdles to not only start up their business but to grow and expand, providing a catalyst for a booming local economy.

“We saw incredible success with this program in 2020,” said Akron Mayor Dan Horrigan. “We helped 5 business owners complete the MORTAR at Bounce program, paired 3 businesses with vacant retail space, connected 3 businesses with architects to start working through their designs, and aided in the opening and expansion of two businesses. As we work tirelessly to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we want to keep the economic development momentum going and provide opportunities for new and existing enterprises to thrive in Akron.  This program is an important part of our strategy to uplift small businesses and create more jobs for our residents.”

The program features four award levels for business and building owners:

  • Business Plan Award: Free tuition to attend MORTAR at Bounce, sharpen your business skills and develop your business plan.  MORTAR is a 15-week accelerator course that helps both existing and aspiring non-tech entrepreneurs learn the nuances of business ownership and build a comprehensive business canvas; the goal being to launch businesses that create jobs and circulate dollars locally. The program focuses on entrepreneurs who are often under-served.
  • Space Award: Get matched with the right space for your business, receive technical assistance to help you choose your space, and be eligible for microgrants to have attorneys review your lease documents
  • Design Award: Meet with architects and be eligible to receive grants to pay for architectural drawings for the build-out of your new space
  • Cash Award: Meet with lenders who focus on supporting small businesses. If there is a gap between what the business owner can put into the project and what the lenders are willing to lend, business owners are eligible to receive grants from the City to fill the financial gap.

Competing businesses will be scored on five criteria, including Vision and Plan, Experience and Capacity, Market Opportunity, Community Support and Leverage of Investment. Winning businesses must also agree to locate within the City of Akron for at least two (2) years and demonstrate a benefit to the community.

Angel Gunter, co-owner of Gypsy Grace & The Vintage Goat, and a participant in round one of Rubber City Match, said, “We have always had the vision to expand our business and offer more services to our customers. When the pandemic hit, we took the time to really tap into what our customers wanted to see from us and also formulate a plan on how we could grow our great community. We redefined a few things about our business model and Rubber City Match helped us bring our vision to life. Rubber City Match is not only allowing us to grow our business, but grow our great community. This is an exciting time for the businesses of Akron.”

The program is already available within Akron’s Great Streets, and is now expanding to the Main Street area between Perkins and Cedar this year.

Information sessions are available over the next month to help answer questions regarding both Rubber City Match and MORTAR at Bounce. Sessions are available both in person and virtually via Zoom, and on various days and times to accommodate all those who are interested in learning more. One recorded information session will be available for viewing on the Rubber City Match website after Monday, May 10.

Information Sessions:

  • Monday, May 10 12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. Virtual - Zoom link will be available on www.rubbercitymatch.com. This session will be recorded and available for later viewing on the website.
  • Wednesday, May 12 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. In person at Bounce Innovation Hub (526 S Main St.) Open house application session with business counselors available
  • Monday, May 24 10:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. In person at The Well CDC (647 E Market St.)
  • Thursday, June 3 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Virtual – Zoom link will be available on www.rubbercitymatch.com
  • Wednesday, June 16 12:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. In person at Bounce Innovation Hub (526 S Main St.) Open house application session with business counselors available

To apply for Rubber City Match visit rubbercitymatch.com and for more information call 330-375-2133.