Rediscover why downtown Dayton is the top location for retailers, eateries, and other first-floor businesses.

Downtown Dayton’s first-floor businesses – boutiques, shops, cafes, yoga studios, restaurants, pubs, and more – are the lifeblood of our downtown community. These entrepreneurs create the amenities, connections, and experiences that make our downtown a vibrant place to live, work, and play.

The Retail Lab invites business owners to advance their first-floor concept through an intensive series of workshops, pitch events, and strategic business improvement projects. Each program element connects participants to new mentors, experts, ideas, capital, and resources that will help the businesses thrive and grow in downtown Dayton.

Business Outcomes
Business owners who complete the program will…

  •        Invest 30+ hours in intensive workshops and opportunities to build and improve their business
  •        Build valuable relationships with mentors and fellow business owners in the Retail Lab
  •        Clarify and strengthen their business model with the support of local experts
  •        Explore technologies to streamline and scale their business
  •        Put their business on track to access capital for growth
  •        Pilot their new concept or new approach in the downtown market
  •        Pitch their business to downtown developers, investors, and stakeholders for additional support
  •        Receive up to $2,500 in professional services and consulting at no cost to your business

Retail Lab Partners & Collaborators

  •        Downtown Dayton Partnership
  •        The Entrepreneurs’ Center
  •        Miami Valley Small Business Development Center
  •        Launch Dayton
  •        Parallax Advanced Research
  •        Five Rivers MetroParks – 2nd Street Market
  •        Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce Minority Business Partnership
  •        Minority Business Assistance Center
  •        CityWide Development
  •        The Hub at the Dayton Arcade
  •        Greater West Dayton Incubator

Program Format
Cohorts of approximately 10 businesses are selected for each round of the Downtown Dayton Retail Lab. Participants work together with Retail Lab mentors and experts to advance their business through a series of 12 weekly workshops. Businesses will then test their progress with creative pop-ups, promotions, or marketing campaigns as a capstone to their Retail Lab experience. The program concludes with a pitch competition in which participants have a chance to pitch their business to downtown developers, supporters, and other stakeholders who can help them take their business to the next level. Pitches will be scored, and the top-scoring business will take home a cash prize! Participants will have ongoing support from the Downtown Dayton Partnership and program partners as they search for the resources and space to succeed and grow.


Fall 2022
July 2022 | Application & Selection Process
August – October 2022 | Weekly Workshops 
October – November 2022 | Wrap Up Service Provider Support
February/March 2023 | Pitch Competition

Val Beerbower – beerbower@downtowndayton.org

How to Apply

Scroll to the application form below.

Learn More

If you would like to learn more before you apply, please contact Val Beerbower at beerbower@downtowndayton.org

Project Support

In addition to the generous contributions of time and expertise from our partners and collaborators, the Retail Lab is made possible by the financial support of Fifth Third Bank and the Entrepreneurs’ Center’s Entrepreneurial Services Provider (ESP) Program. Thank you!

The Downtown Dayton Partnership is a proud partner of the Launch Dayton community. Launch Dayton partners believe everyone, regardless of their background, should have the opportunity to determine their own economic prosperity. This community exists to support and inspire all Daytonians who are building businesses. Launch Dayton partners collaborate to build an easily accessible environment, run high-caliber programming, and connect a network of champions, mentors, and resource providers.


Retail Lab applications are closed. Check back in early 2023 for the new session. Need help with your business now? Visit Launch Dayton for tools and resources for small businesses, including the Early Risers Academy, a free workshop that helps entrepreneurs bring their vision to life.