Heights Libraries, City of Cleveland Heights apply for $400,000 federal small business incubator grant

In order to effectively address unemployment in Northeast Ohio and nurture new small businesses and nonprofit organizations, the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library (Heights Libraries) and the City of Cleveland Heights have jointly applied for a $400,000 Federal Matching Funds grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the creation of a small business and nonprofit incubator space.

The space, to be called Heights Knowledge and Information Center (HKIC), will be built in the west wing of the Lee Road branch, a building that was once a YMCA and now houses Dobama Theatre, Family Connections literacy playroom, and the Library’s computer lab and classroom.

HKIC will cater to the needs of regional entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders by providing hands-on, start-up support services and resources along with a physical facility to outfit budding enterprises with affordable temporary office space. HKIC will also serve as a way to connect leaders of the business and nonprofit community with these entrepreneurs.

“During this recent recession, Americans have been looking to libraries more and more to provide them with job search tools and guidance,” said Nancy Levin, Heights Libraries director. “Heights Libraries is definitely part of that trend. People are already coming here to attend job search classes and look for jobs on the Internet, so a center that supports economic growth by supporting and nurturing new businesses and nonprofits is a natural fit for us.”

HKIC will also provide an affiliate home for Cleveland State University Monte Ahuja College of Business Small Business Development Center (SBDC), which is currently located in Cleveland Heights City Hall. SBDC provides small businesses with supportive services ranging from strategic planning and research to accounting and marketing, and will continue to provide those services in partnership with HKIC.

“We are excited and enthusiastic about this opportunity to further develop the collaboration between the Small Business Development Center and the City of Cleveland Heights to advance economic development in the region,” noted Robert Scherer, dean of the Monte Ahuja College of Business.

“Essentially, HKIC will be another example of our dedication to economic development programs that nurture young organizations and provide entrepreneurs the support they desire,” said Cleveland Heights Mayor Edward Kelley. “This is a great example of a public/private partnership and we look forward to hearing positive news about our grant application.”

The grant application included letters of support from the Heights-Hillcrest Chamber of Commerce, U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, and U.S. Representatives Marcia Fudge and Steve Latourette.  If Heights Libraries and the City of Cleveland Heights receive the grant, Heights Libraries will match the federal funds with construction, equipment, programs, and staffing.

Sheryl Banks

Sheryl Banks is the marketing and community relations manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Library System

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Volume 5, Issue 6, Posted 9:28 AM, 06.01.2012