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Home / Neighborhood / San Bernardino / Ontario expands pop-up retail as part of ‘downtown renaissance’

Ontario expands pop-up retail as part of ‘downtown renaissance’

by Staff
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The Ontario Economic Development Agency is accepting applications for the second round of its Downtown Retail Pop-Up Program, which helps small businesses grow into brick-and-mortar stores, the city announced last week.

Under the program, which launched this past year, the city will rent on a short-term basis city-owned commercial space for $1 a month for up to six months, including free utilities and Wi-Fi, according to the city’s announcement. The available rental spaces are in the heart of downtown Ontario on heavily traveled Euclid Avenue.

To qualify for the grant program, applicants must show proof that they have general liability insurance, apply for all necessary permits, sign a liability waiver and right-of-entry permit and pay a refundable deposit of $1 per square foot. 

Officials said the pop-up program “is designed to bolster the retail sector in the historic central business district by providing selected applicants with technical support in obtaining permits, marketing assistance, introductions to the Downtown Ontario Improvement Association (DOIA), and the opportunity to test the local market.”

Last year, 22 entrepreneurs applied to use two available locations, and officials expect the interest in the program to continue.

“This unique program is part of the City’s ongoing investment in the renaissance of downtown Ontario — in this case, by providing entrepreneurs an opportunity to expand their business without the high start-up costs,” Jennifer McLain Hiramoto, the city’s executive director of economic development, said in a statement.

One couple who utilized the program this year were Jonas and Eva Nakas, who launched Craft Collective at 137 N. Euclid Blvd. in a building that was previously occupied by Gemmel’s Home Medical Equipment. The store displays and markets dozens of original works of art from the Nakas’ network of artists.

“We’re really happy with what the city is doing. We’re excited to be part of the revival of downtown and to elevate the local arts community,” Jonas Nakas said in a statement. “Right now, we have about 40 vendors in here, and we get new ones every week.”

Over the past several years, Ontario has spent millions for land purchases, infrastructure upgrades and redevelopment projects, officials said. The current projects on tap will add to the city 750 new employees, 600 new residential units, 13,000 square feet of commercial space and campus expansion at the University of La Verne.

The goal is to initiate a “downtown renaissance” that will “energize the authentic and historic downtown into a vibrant, walkable 18-hour downtown,” according to the city.

Applications for the Downtown Ontario Retail Pop-up Program are due June 24. For program guidelines and the application, visit ontariothinksbusiness.com/DowntownRetailPopUp.

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