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 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 professional services from creative, legal, and financial firms at no cost to your business

  • 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
    Cohorts of approximately 10 businesses will be selected for each round of 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 as a capstone to their Retail Lab experience. The program 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.


    Cohort 1
    August 11 – October 27 | Weekly Workshops
    November – December | Implement holiday marketing campaigns, pop-ups, etc.
    January 2021 | Demo Day

    Cohort 2
    November – December 2020 | Application & Selection Process
    January – April 2021 | Weekly Workshops
    Please fill out the Retail Lab Interest Form to receive updates when the the application process reopens.

    Interested in applying?

    If you would like to learn more, please contact AJ Ferguson at ferguson@downtowndayton.org or fill out the interest form below. We’ll keep you up to date on the application process and answer any questions you have.

    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 current Retail Lab cohort. The application process is expected to reopen in November 2020 for the Retail Lab cohort beginning in January 2021. Please contact AJ Ferguson (ferguson@downtowndayton.org) for more information.