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Ground Floor Growth Initiative

Support small and expand retail offerings.

Ground Floor Growth envisions a downtown in which small, local, minority- and women-owned businesses are rooted into a commercial corridor, leading a vibrant, diverse retail hub for those who both live and work in the neighborhood.

This is a major opportunity for newly emerging small businesses, a response to the issue of vacant ground floor retail space, and an effort to further the work to transform downtown into a diverse marketplace. Ground Floor Growth was designed to accomplish a number of goals through a comprehensive approach to business development and support. There are three key components to the program:

  • Graduated Rent Support and Risk Mitigation Fund: Participating businesses will receive rent support for the first three years of their lease. That support will gradually wind down until the business is independent after three years.
  • Tenant Renovation Fund: The City of Columbus committed $1 million in capital funds to contribute to the renovation of retail spaces participating in the program. Property owners and small business owners will also contribute to renovations, ensuring that all parties are investing in improvements and that renovation costs are not an insurmountable barrier to entry for small businesses.
  • Technical Assistance: The City established a contract with the Columbus Empowerment Corporation to provide advising services to support businesses navigating challenges as they enter into new brick-and-mortar locations. CEC will also be available to businesses neighboring program locations in the corridor, ensuring that businesses thrive collectively.


With 2,000 residents in the Gay Street District, and another 1,000 joining in the next 18 months through new residential product under construction right now, the Gay Street District is the ideal launching place for this program. New emerging businesses will complement long-established retail anchors in the area.