Helping small businesses succeed

An EDCI meeting with audience members and a panel.

If you need funding for your small business, but you don’t qualify for a traditional loan from a bank, that doesn’t mean it’s the end of the road. Thanks to the Economic Community Development Institute (ECDI) in Columbus, there is another path to funding that helps prepare business owners to qualify for more traditional — and economical — business bank loans.

About ECDI

ECDI, the third-largest U.S. Small Business Administration microlender intermediary in the country, helps small business owners get funding, improve their skills and find success in all 88 Ohio counties.

“Most of the businesses we serve cannot get traditional funding from banks for business credit needs because they’re high risk,” says Steve Fireman, ECDI’s executive vice president and general counsel. “We take these businesses on as our clients and provide interim loans, training and education, getting them where they need to be to qualify for more traditional funding.”

Inna Kinney, founder and CEO, says Huntington Bank was ECDI’s first substantial banking partner.

“Today Huntington has invested more than $3 million in ECDI loan funds over the last 10 years, which has leveraged tens of millions of dollars in loan capital from foundations, the government, other banks and individuals,” Kinney says.

What ECDI does

As a hands-on organization, ECDI shepherds its clients through every aspect of business development.

“We assess to see where each client is on his/her entrepreneurial journey and determine individual needs,” Fireman says.

Then the staff does whatever it takes — from marketing, technical assistance, business development and financial counseling — to help the business succeed. And the organization remains on board as long as necessary, continuing to check progress and provide assistance.

“We think of these relationships as partnerships, and we do what we can to help each business stay on track and succeed,” Fireman says.

How its people help

“The most integral part of our mission is to build one-on-one relationships with startups, expanding businesses and funding partners, which are critical to the success of the business,” Kinney says. “We pride ourselves on that.”

ECDI’s staff spends time getting to know each client to understand his/her financial position and challenges, assist with strategy, marketing and accounting and talk to bankers on their behalf.

“We walk beside them on their journey,” Kinney says.

An ECDI meeting with audience members and a panel.

About the organization

Name: Economic Community Development Institute


City: Columbus, Cleveland, Akron, and Toledo (serving all of Ohio)

Phone: (614) 559-0115

Mission: To invest in people to create measurable and enduring social and economic change

How you can help

Professional advisers who can be of help to small businesses are greatly welcome. Not an expert? You can help by donating money or investing through ECDI’s Invest Local Ohio Fund program.

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