City of Cleveland Small Business Strategy

The Mass Economics team supported an ambitious data collection and analysis effort by the City of Cleveland to better understand the consumer retail and services sectors in the city’s lowest-income neighborhoods. Mass Economics worked with the city on survey design to understand business strategy, technology utilization, and capital needs of 100 businesses in diverse neighborhoods in the University Circle area of Cleveland. Data gathering for the project proceeded in two phases. In the first phase, site assessments and interviews were performed with mostly retail and services firms; in the second phase, additional firms, including many in industrial and business-to-business (B2B) segments, were surveyed. By breaking the sampling into two phases, the project team was able to evolve the site assessment methodology between the first sample of firms, for which the survey team performed a general evaluation of sites based on observation, and the second sample, for which the survey team compiled specific information on an enumerated set of site characteristics. Based on survey analyses, as well as additional research on neighborhood conditions, Mass Economics made recommendations on specific programmatic and investment supports for strengthening neighborhood retail and service firms, as well as industrial and business-to-business (B2B) firms. The findings from the project are being used to shape city policy and philanthropic program investments to assist individual small businesses and create vibrant retail and services districts in the city’s neighborhoods.


City of Cleveland,





Project Type:

Inclusion + Opportunity,