As the fourth season of The Cleveland Chain Reaction program reaches its conclusion, the initiative has announced the names of 23 businesses that will be receiving a combined $161,000 in grants to create new jobs and continue investing in their neighborhoods.
Cathy’s Gourmet Ice Cream Sandwiches took home the lions’ share by winning the grand prize, receiving $40,000. The business, which operates out of The Arcade on Euclid, serves gourmet ice cream sandwiches on soft-baked cookies, along with its sister store in Atlanta, Georgia.
CCR’s semifinalist winners this year are Latino Taste to Go and Ready Set! Coffee Roasters, which will each receive $20,000 for their respective grab-and-go and ecommerce coffee concepts. Ready Set! Coffee may opt to use its funds to help support its first-ever retail location, which opened in the Gordon Square Arts District on Monday, a goal the small-batch roaster has been working toward for over a year.
Third-place winners CityBreaks Barbershop, Play Maysie and Vitiman Kandie now have an additional $10,000 through CCR. Along with a boutique called Styles of Imagination, those first two businesses will also be opening brick-and-mortar storefronts in Tower City Center, with the program funding 21 combined months of leases at the shopping center. The remaining 17 semifinalist businesses each get $3,000.
Each year the program hosts an open application process for small businesses in Cleveland, several of which are then invited to pitch their concept before a team of business leaders. A collaboration between Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, the Greater Cleveland Partnership’s Council of Smaller Enterprises division and Cleveland Development Advisors, CCR has received over 400 applications since it kicked off in 2016.
“Having been there from the start with our devotion to small business within the city of Cleveland, we are proud of how the Chain Reaction team has perpetuated our early efforts,” said CCR founder and Senior Advisor Alan Glazen. “And we are delighted to be able to contribute further toward the goals which we hold dear to our hearts.”
This year marks the fourth “season” of The Cleveland Chain Reaction, and it’s the first one since the pandemic. Realizing they had to meet new needs that had never existed in Cleveland’s business community before, the investment program’s most recent competition sourced the $3,000 fourth-place prizes from “the business community across Northeast Ohio.” That community includes Huntington Bank, Bedrock, JumpStart and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress.
Collin Cunningham is a freelance journalist who lives in Tremont.