OTR chamber awards $10,000 in innovation grants

Spruce Natural Nail Shop is not your typical neighborhood nail salon. It pledges that all its products are cruelty-free and toxin-free, and its eco-friendly shop is located in the heart of Over-the-Rhine on Vine Street.


Now, it’s about to take its show on the road after receiving a grant from the Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce. The Spruce team will use the $5,500 grant to start a mobile nail salon to offer their services at homes and businesses. Once up and running, hopefully by early summer, it’s likely to be the first mobile nail salon in the Midwest.


The project already has the OK from state regulators.


“This will allow us to take our services into the community, at the office, home, and even to festivals in and around the city,” says Spruce owner Molly Reckman.


The grant was one of three just awarded by the OTR Chamber to help expand small business operations in the community.


The chamber awarded St. Francis Seraph Ministries a $2,500 OTR Innovation Challenge Grant to purchase durable equipment and supplies (purchased from Artichoke, an OTR business), to support the expansion of the organization’s Cooking for the Family program.


Cooking for the Family is a five-week curriculum that teaches community families basic skills and techniques that use fresh and healthy ingredients. The program is expanding to satellite locations in partnership with local organizations, including the OTR YMCA and Elm Street Health Center.


The Business Innovation Challenge, which began in 2014, awards grants to OTR businesses that want to grow new products and services. Past grantees include Venice on Vine, The Sarah Center, and The Libby Shop.


The Know Theatre was awarded $2,000 to expand on a new program, Play(under)ground, which the theater company piloted last season. The series gives local performing artists the chance to experiment with new performance ideas as a complement to Know’s MainStage season. It also allows the community to engage with the live performances.


“Each of these grants not only supports central operations in our neighborhood, but then takes that spirit of innovation into the surrounding areas and communities,” says OTR Chamber Executive Director Kelly Adamson.


This latest round of grants brings to $32,000 the OTR Chamber has awarded to 16 businesses since the inception of the Innovation Challenge grant program in 2014.


The Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1985 to promote business attraction, retention, and safety in the community, as well as to foster a socially and culturally diverse neighborhood. It also founded the nonprofit OTR Revitalization Corporation, which works to bring resources, events, business, and awareness to the urban neighborhood.

Read more articles by David Holthaus.

David Holthaus is an award-winning journalist, Cincinnati native and father of three. When not writing or editing, he's likely to be bicycling, hiking, reading or watching classic movies.
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