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Resources to Start or Grow Your Business

Running a business can be expensive. We’ve gathered some great free local resources that can help you in any stage of growth. We’ve also mixed in some paid opportunities to help you make connections and raise awareness about your business.

Business Assistance

The Small Business Administration (SBA) is the only cabinet-level federal agency dedicated to small businesses. It provides counseling, capital, and contracting expertise.

The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) is a national nonprofit providing mentoring for new and small business owners. Volunteer executives assist with creating and vetting business plans, provide guidance on growing your business, and conduct workshops on the necessary steps to start a new business.

Bounce Innovation Hub supports new and small entrepreneurial businesses and includes a start-up incubator, accelerator programs, a makerspace, private and shared coworking space, event and meeting rooms, and a cafe.

JumpStart is a venture development organization providing capital, services, and connections to help entrepreneurs grow, researchers commercialize, and corporations innovate. Services include mentoring, funding, and support for diverse businesses in underserved areas.

Women’s Business Centers of Ohio is dedicated to eliminating the obstacles women face in the world of business by providing resources, training and access to capital.

The Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI) provides training for new, existing, and aspiring entrepreneurs who need focused, intensive training and one-on-one assistance. ECDI also helps secure capital for business owners who cannot access traditional financing due to economic conditions or a lack of bank credit.

The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) works to accelerate business success in Summit, Portage, and Medina counties. It assists companies at any point in their business life cycle with accessing capital, business plan development, management, human resources, financial analysis, and legal issues.

The Akron Minority Business Assistance Center at the Akron Urban League supports the growth and sustainability of small, disadvantaged, minority-owned and women-owned businesses, providing access to capital, professional advice, and MBE/EDGE certification.

The Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Equity & Inclusion Marketplace is a searchable online portal connecting minority-owned businesses to opportunities, growth services, and capital.

ConxusNEO is a workforce development agency primarily focused on manufacturing, information technology, and healthcare. It partners with companies, public and government agencies, and community-based organizations to develop a talent supply chain and training programs aligned with in-demand skills.

The Business Resource Network represents local, state, and federal economic and workforce development agencies and assists companies in accessing hundreds of programs and services.

The Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship Research at the Hudson Library offers free programs, workshops, and events to assist entrepreneurs in establishing, growing, and maintaining a healthy business. One-on-one business mentoring is available by appointment.

Building Relationships: Local Chambers

One of the best ways to grow your business is by joining local Chambers of Commerce. While not free, each offers numerous networking events, educational programming, and sponsorship opportunities that are definitely worth the investment.

Networking: Specialty Groups

In addition to Chambers of Commerce, there are several local groups to help you connect with fellow business professionals. Some are free, while others require paid membership.

Online Resource: Business Navigator

The Greater Akron Business Navigator, created by Elevate Greater Akron, is a free online tool listing support resources customized for your specific business needs. Users can find information related to professional services, financing, workforce, business development, commercial real estate, mentoring, business certifications, and more. The resources available through the Navigator are primarily from providers within Summit, Medina, and Portage counties.

After completing a brief questionnaire, which includes general questions about your business stage, annual revenue, number of employees, and type of assistance you need, a personalized list is generated with details and contact information about each organization or program. Results can also be printed.

Get to Work: Coworking Spaces

While the pandemic may have shown us we can work remotely, many people miss the interaction and connection. Several coworking opportunities exist in the region that can meet the needs of any business. From dedicated office spaces to day passes, coworking is an effective way to invigorate your business.