CLEVELAND, Ohio — Starting a business is a challenging task, especially with the pandemic. Yet, the Ohio nonprofit organization Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) continues to support entrepreneurs.
"They not only got me the financing that I needed but they also helped me with understanding my packaging strategy. They helped me refine my branding strategy," said Michelle Allen.
Allen is the owner of Mmelo Boutique Confections in Columbus. When she started her company six years ago, it was just an idea on a piece of paper. But the ECDI helped her turn her idea into a reality.
"I've used just about every service that they have. All of the training. You know it's more than financing. It's also classes. It's advice. It's support," said Allen.
Since ECDI first started, it has helped hundreds of businesses connect with resources that they need.
Inna Kinney, the founder and CEO of ECDI, said she started the company in 2004. It is a small business lender, and much more.
“So ECDI’s mission is to assist start up and existing businesses as a one stop shop agency. We provide access to capital. We provide training, technical assistance. We provide incubation services. So one stop shop for businesses whether they’re start ups or existing businesses," said Kinney.
As COVID-19 continues to impact businesses, Kinney said the smallest of the small businesses are really feeling the burn. She said they are still assisting businesses giving out nearly $7 million in loans since the pandemic started.
“We work with individuals that for some reason might not be able to have access to mainstream financial institution. We provide loans from $250 all the way up to $350,000," said Kinney.
Allen had to make adjustments to her business in the face of coronavirus but said ECDI was there for her every step of the way.
"When COVID kicked in they were the people that I called to figure out my strategy for surviving this," said Allen.
Kinney said they are supporting their clients anyway they can.
“Our goal is to assist businesses with any type of assistance they need in order to get started again or to help them with any type of assistance right now. If they have to buy PPE equipment, working capital, inventory," said Kinney.
ECDI is able to help businesses in all 88 counties in Ohio. They have offices in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Akron, Canton, and Toledo.
If you'd like to learn more about ECDI and the resources they offer you can click here.
Charter communications, the parent company of Spectrum News, has invested $1 million in the Ohio Economic and Development Institute.