Charter One Foundation Expands Small Business Grant Program to Downtown in Hopes of Repopulating 5th Street Arcades

The Charter One Foundation, which is a part of the charitable arm of the RBS Citizens Financial Group Inc., has decided to extend its "Growing Communities" program to the 5th Street Arcades in an effort to help fill the numerous empty storefronts in two historic arcades.

The arcades - the Colonial and Euclid arcades, which are connected and now known as the 5th Street Arcades - run between Euclid and Prospect avenues. Retailers looking to open or expand in these arcades are eligible to apply for grants ranging from $1,000 to $20,000. Grant applications are available online, and must be returned by 5pm on March 1, 2013.

The winning retailers will not automatically receive grants. Instead, they'll advance to a second round, which will be a 30-day public fundraising campaign playing off the idea of crowd-funding websites like Kickstarter.

Charter One, along with the Downtown Cleveland Alliance, will announce winners and final grant amounts in late April or early May.

The 5th Street Arcades have picked up a few new tenants, and is offering reduced rent to start-up companies.