ST. BERNARD, Ohio — There are many resources for small businesses still recovering from the effects of COVID-19. But which ones does a company qualify for, and how does a person go about applying?

What You Need To Know

  • 513 Small Business Assist is a one-stop shop of pandemic support services for eligible small businesses

  • The primary goal is to help small businesses receive pandemic relief funds

  • Partner organizations will also help with things like legal services, accounting and marketing

  • The program aims to support 2,000 businesses by the end of the year

Finding those answers may be daunting for the smallest of small businesses. Many don’t have access to key support or office staff.

To address those issues, Hamilton County developed 513 Small Business Assist. Launched Wednesday, the program aims to help small businesses — those with 50 or fewer employees — navigate every aspect of pandemic recovery.

They’re focused on local resources and those at the state and federal levels as well.

Project partners gather for a photo following the launch of 513 Small Business Assist (Casey Weldon/Spectrum News 1)
Project partners gather for a photo following the launch of 513 Small Business Assist. (Spectrum News/Casey Weldon)

The program is a byproduct of what the county learned while distributing the first two rounds of CARES Act funds to small businesses.

"We learned... that the reason many small businesses hadn't received any federal funding was they didn't have the backroom support to go after those dollars. And so they missed out," said Hamilton County Commissioner Denise Driehaus.

"We asked ourselves, 'What can we do to make sure some of these very small businesses have access to the dollars related to COVID-19?" Driehaus added.

Commission President Stephanie Summerow Dumas called it the county's "responsibility" to do everything it can to support them. 

"We can't leave any funds on the table," she said.

There are about 19,000 established small businesses eligible within Hamilton County, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

One of those businesses is Wiedemann’s Fine Beer, a brewery and restaurant in the heart of the St. Bernard business district. It's steps from where Wednesday's program kickoff took place.

Wiedemann owner Jon Newberry said he employs about 25 to 30 people "depending on the week." But that number was much smaller when he had to close its dining room early during the pandemic.

Wiedemann's Fine Beer
Jon Newberry, owner of Wiedemann's Fine Beer. (Spectrum News/Casey Weldon)

"I probably wouldn't be the owner of Wiedemann's Brewery today if it weren't for some of these programs. It's been critical," he said.

Newberry said he's appreciative of all the resources available. He said it's sometimes difficult to "keep track" of the programs and knowing which ones he can, and should, apply for. 

"I was just sitting here at the bar talking to an accountant yesterday, and he asked me about some program and if we applied for it," Newberry said. "And I said, 'I think I already applied for that one.' And he said, 'No, this is a new one that just came out the other day.' 

"There's new stuff popping up all the time."

513 Small Business Assist is being administered by the National Development Council. The organization will work with each business to determine its specific needs. 

From there, NDC will set up a business owner with various project partners. Those partners include the Greater Cincinnati Microenterprise Initiative, Next Street, the Urban League of Greater Southwestern Ohio and the various regional chambers of commerce.

Some of the resources available to participants are:

  • Rapid Business Assessments: Small business owners will receive a recommendation on what support and services they should look into. They'll also get a measure of their level of readiness to access funding.
  • One-on-One Business Advice: Following the assessment, business owners will pair with a support partner who will provide custom recommendations about the support and services they're eligible to receive.
  • Grant Application and Funding Assistance: Participants will receive advice about specific grants and loan programs and which they should look into.

Corey Leon, field director for NDC, called 513 Small Business Assist a "one-stop shop" for everything small business. 

That includes mentorship, grant writing, legal services, financial management and marketing.

"We're providing mentorship in the areas of accounting, legal and marketing," Leon said. "Our goal is to help companies with those things that may be preventing them from fully getting back on their feet."

Businesses will also be eligible for a third round of relief funding from Hamilton County. Those details are not yet finalized. 

The goal is to help about 2,000 small businesses by the end of the year, per Hamilton County.

"The program is going to be extremely helpful," Newberry said. "I plan to sign up today."

Business owners can find more information online. They can also call 513-273-0503.