Take your business to the next level in the Downtown Dayton Retail Lab.

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 pop-up opportunities. Each program element connects participants to new mentors, experts, ideas, capital, and resources that will help the businesses thrive and 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 (Demo Day)
  • Receive up to $2,500 in professional services from creative, legal, and financial firms

  • Retail Lab Partners & Collaborators

  • Downtown Dayton Partnership
  • The Entrepreneurs Center
  • Miami Valley Small Business Development Center
  • Launch Dayton
  • Wright State Applied Research Corporation
  • Five Rivers MetroParks – 2nd Street Market
  • DACC Minority Business Partnership
  • Minority Business Assistance Center
  • CityWide Development
  • The Hub at the Dayton Arcade

  • Program Format
    In Summer 2020, the first cohort (5 to 10 businesses) will be selected for the Downtown Dayton Retail Lab. Participants will 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 during the 2020 holiday shopping season. The experience concludes with a Demo Day in which participants have chance to pitch their business to downtown developers, supporters, and other stakeholders who can help them take their business to the next level. 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.

    July 14 | Deadline to apply
    July 15 – July 24 | Applicant interviews and selection
    August 11 – October 27 | Weekly Workshops
    November – December | Implement holiday marketing campaigns, pop-ups, etc.
    January 2021 | Demo Day

    Want to Learn More Before You Apply?

    If you would like to learn more about the program before you apply, please contact AJ Ferguson at ferguson@downtowndayton.org or fill out the interest form below. Our team is happy to set up a phone call to answer your questions.

    Retail Lab Interest Form

    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 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.



    The application process has closed for the Fall 2020 cohort. Please contact AJ Ferguson (ferguson@downtowndayton.org) for information on future opportunities to apply.