ECDI to Raise $10M for Local Businesses Through New Fund


Thanks to a new program created by the Economic and Community Development Institute, Central Ohioans will have an opportunity to make money and better their community through small business investment.

Every dollar committed to the Invest Local Ohio program will be loaned to a local small business and leveraged with at least two more dollars from other ECDI loan funds; investors will receive a minimum 2 percent return on their investment.

“ECDI has been making small business loans to Central Ohio entrepreneurs since 2004,” says Amy Szabo, director of development at the institute.

“Until now, our loan funds have primarily come from federal, state, and local government programs, ” she continues. “In the past two years, as the demand for ECDI loans has skyrocketed, ECDI has realized that in order to keep up with the demand, we’ll have to find loans funds from a new source.”

Under the Invest Local Ohio program, ECDI is able to make loans up to $100,000 to any business owner who goes through its underwriting process and is approved by its loan review committee. Over the last six years, ECDI has made nearly $8.5 million in loans to more than 500 small businesses.

“By investing in the Invest Local Ohio fund, ECDI can continue to fund the great business ideas that entrepreneurs bring to us when they are unable to find capital elsewhere,” Szabo says. “In addition to loans, we work closely with our entrepreneurs and provide training and technical assistance opportunities that they would not get from a bank.”

Szabo says investors can feel good about contributing to the fund because they know every dollar they invest will be lent and relent to local entrepreneurs rather than disappear into “some amorphous fund or investment product that only benefits a faceless national corporation.”

Also, investors can choose to shop at the stores and eat at the restaurants benefiting from Invest Local Ohio using regular ECDI website updates about those businesses.

Investors will be updated about their investments on a monthly basis via the ECDI e-newsletter and annually through an impact report that will provide in-depth portfolio performance by sector.

“This is a great opportunity for all of us who understand the value of keeping our money circulating locally and who realize that small businesses account for the vast majority of net new jobs created,” she says. “ECDI has been in the business of job creation since 2004, before it was a national buzzword. We have an impressive track record, and are ready to invite our community to join us.”

ECDI’s goal is to raise $10 million for Invest Local Ohio over three years beginning Feb 1.

The minimum investment is $1,000, but those who don’t have $1,000 to invest can make a donation to the Invest Local Ohio fund.

Potential investors can request more information about Invest Local Ohio, including a prospectus and sample contract, by contacting Amy Szabo at

  • We are very excited about this new opportunity to help start and support more small businesses in Central Ohio. The concept that we together can leverage our investments to help our community is what true economic development is all about.

  • I am *really* excited about this new program and planning on signing up to invest. The return rate of 2% is roughly equivalent to current CD rates, and while this isn’t something that anyone is likely to get rich from, it’s an amazing opportunity to have an impact on creating new businesses in Columbus.

    Buy Local.
    Eat Local.
    Shop Local.
    Build Local.

  • AWESOME news. There is so much rhetoric around shopping local, but the simple truth is that access to capital is the toughest thing for a business to get, especially a new one. Thanks to ECDI for making Columbus a great place to launch a business!

  • This is incredible. Access to funding is one of major hurdles or barriers that the retailers I work with face. And how cool to create a system where the community can help grow our local talent? I just love this! Makes me happy to live in Columbus. :)

  • We are super excited to be able to offer you the opportunity to Invest Local… It’s an idea we’ve been talking about at ECDI for several years, but the economic crisis and subsequent credit crunch made it a priority. I’ve already gotten a couple of emails from interested potential investors. Bring it on!

  • This is wonderful. As a new business looking for investment and as an individual in the community looking to invest in the future – what a great vehicle. Touching on Walker Evans comment: “Buy Local. Eat Local. Shop Local. Build Local. INVEST LOCAL.” that is similar to our slogan at Traxler Tees “Buy Local, Buy Ohio.”