Bright red signs decorating Cambridge storefronts boldly invite entrepreneurs to “Open Your Business Here” and pledge up to $50,000 to “promising new retail businesses for acquisition, equipment, merchandise and marketing.” Targeting specific blocks of High, Poplar and Race streets, the six month old Cambridge Venture Capital Fund is making its mark downtown with plans to help a half-dozen new retail businesses open.
Created by local business leaders, including City resident and NOVO Development CEO Brett Summers in October 2012, the program has attracted great interest from people looking to join Cambridge’s growing downtown business community. Since launching the Fund six months ago, more than two-dozen people have contacted the program. At least four start-ups are developing business plans and seeking Fund assistance. Prospective retailers include two crafts shops and a natural product store.
“We’re looking for five to seven entrepreneurs who are passionate about their retail business idea and ready to put the time and effort into the planning to be successful,” said Summers adding that clothing, children’s toys and an outdoors outfitter would be strong additions to the mix and give downtown a ‘shot in the arm.’ He is working with one entrepreneur to launch a “paint your own” wood toy and craft shop – similar to popular ceramics stores of a similar genre – and is helping finalize operating plans. A second retailer was green lighted by the Fund but appears to have secured necessary capital financing.
For information on the Fund, eligibility requirements and available properties on Race, High and Poplar streets, visit www.CambridgeMainStreet.com or contact Summers at 202-315-1108 or BSummers@NovoDev.com.