Alan Glazen was one of the investors on Cleveland Hustles, the LeBron-produced CNBC reality show that paired investors with local Cleveland businesses in Detroit-Shoreway. The end of that show, which aired in August of last year, doesn't mean the end of the idea though. Building off the momentum that saw expansions and new locations for Cleveland Bagel, Fount and Old City Soda, Glazen and others will launch Cleveland Chain Reaction.
That program, produced in conjunction with Fox 8 along with GlazenUrban, COSE and Cleveland Neighborhood Progress, will choose one Cleveland neighborhood and five businesses this year for an economic development influx.
“The project is about two things: doing good and doing well,” Glazen said. “It’s about backing small businesses in the inner city. If you want to make a ton of money, this isn’t for you. This is about making some money while giving back to the community.”
Four neighborhoods are currently in the running: West 25th and Clark in Clark/Fulton; East 185th in North Collinwood; Fleet Ave. in Slavic Village; and East 50th to East 69th in St. Clair/Superior.
Five investors — Cleveland Foundation; Fred Geis; Andrew Jackson of Elson's International; Justin Miller, owner of CleanLife; and Claudia Young of Ciziten Pie — have committed at least $650,000 so far.
Once a neighborhood is chosen, COSE will then cut the businesses down from 100 to 24, and the investors will choose two before ultimately deciding which company they choose to invest in (each company will get around $130,000 in investment).
While Cleveland Hustles focused on retail/food, Chain Reaction is open to any type of small business — not necessarily one that customers walk into off the street. “We want small businesses that are already in existence, that are doing well, but the only thing holding them back is money. We want to take them to that next step,” Glazen said. “It could be in any industry. Doesn’t matter.”
The businesses that receive the investment won't have to put up collateral or a personal signature to receive money. “I don’t want them going to bed every night, scared they’re going to lose their house or they car if they fail,” Glazen said. “We want to create jobs. We want to help these businesses. Not scare them.” In addition to the financial investment, whatever businesses are chosen will also get the expertise and advice of their investors.
Do you have a business in one of the four neighborhoods chosen as finalists? You can apply to be part of the program at Chain Reaction's website.