The Over-the-Rhine Chamber of Commerce wants to raise $500,000 so it can provide grants of up to $20,000 to small businesses hurt by the pandemic in that community and in the Pendleton neighborhood next door.

It’s already halfway to the goal thanks to contributions of $100,000 from startup accelerator Main Street Ventures and real estate firm Urban Sites, and $50,000 from investment firm Sycamore Capital.

“We created this fund to not only provide financial support for the reopening process, but to strengthen our small business district as a whole,” says Kelly Adamson, OTR Chamber executive director.

The Main Street Ventures commitment is a $100,000 matching grant, which the OTR Chamber says it is leveraging to kick-off a crowdfunding campaign called “OTR Back on the Rise.”

The campaign goal is to match Main Street Venture’s grant with donations of $1,000 from 100 people, who will then be recognized as “OTR Backers.” The Chamber and 3CDC will then recognize each person or company who contributes $1,000 through a future community project.

“We see this as an opportunity to uniquely acknowledge the people who stood up and said to our small businesses, ‘I’ve got your back,’” Adamson says.

The Small Business Relief Fund is meant to help stabilize businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic who must now cope with challenges to re-opening under new safety guidelines.

In addition to providing financial support, grantees will receive a one-year membership to the Economic and Community Development Institute, a certified Community Development Corporation (CDC) that provides access to technical assistance and small business development services.

The OTR Chamber is also partnering with the Cincinnati Development Fund to administer the program.

To donate to the OTR Back on the Rise campaign visit the website or mail a check to the Over-the-Rhine Revitalization Corp. c/o the OTR Chamber of Commerce, 1307 Walnut St., Cincinnati, OH 45202.