Next Street partnered with the City of Columbus to assess the small business ecosystem in Columbus and develop actionable strategies to better support a thriving and inclusive environment for small businesses.

How we analyzed the ecosystem

In partnership with the City of Columbus and Development Strategies, we conducted a quantitative and qualitative assessment to understand the current state of the small business ecosystem, analyzed the capital support available to small businesses in Columbus, and conducted research to benchmark Columbus against peer cities. We gathered perspectives from over 25 small business owners and more than 30 entrepreneur support organizations, and were guided by an Advisory Committee of more than 40 leaders and small business owners across the small business ecosystem.

While our assessment and was inclusive of all small businesses, we focused on businesses owned by People of Color because those business owners are critical to the overall competitiveness of Columbus, and because businesses owned by People of Color help spur inclusive economic growth and play a role in addressing systemic barriers and closing the racial wealth gap.

The path forward

With the research in hand, we convened the Advisory Committee through three workshops to align on priority strategies, roles and responsibilities, and execution planning – all of which culminated in the Small Business Agenda. The Small Business Agenda summarizes our research and analysis, and presents a bold vision and a path forward for real change across the City of Columbus, with the power to bridge the small business ecosystem gaps and lift up all small business owners.