WBC Gallery Wall Grand Opening to Feature Community-Focused Local Artist

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Like many local entrepreneurs, Women’s Business Center member Kirsta Niemie-Benedetti not only works to build her business, but also to make a positive impact on her community. With a thriving career as an independent artist, founding a non-profit, and managing a busy household, Neimie-Benedetti’s community impact is extensive.

Her pursuit of a career as an artist began with education at Maryland Institute College of Art and Columbus College of Art and Design, majoring in painting and installation art. Post-graduation, she took time to travel, living in India and Egypt. Afterwards, she returned to her roots by moving back to Columbus. She was grateful for the hospitality she felt while abroad, and wanted to give new Americans the kind of welcome she had received. She founded Riverview International Center in 2015 to provide advocacy, support, and links to services for new immigrants in a welcoming, friendly environment. In her words, “I knew what it felt like to be new and helpless in a foreign country, so I wanted to give back in whatever capacity I could.”

Kirsta Niemie-Benedetti and her daughters.
Kirsta Niemie-Benedetti and her daughters.

Growing an art career, a non-profit, and a family at the same time requires a sense of purpose and vision that Niemie-Benedetti embodies. In her work, she uses her art as a bridge to bring together the many facets of her life.

“I tend to be motivated to create for two reasons: my abstract pieces are primarily studies of color, line, balance, and technique – rarely even having references to start from,” she says. “My other work, not limited to a specific medium, is conceptual and often with a social justice focus. I like to use my work as a voice for people who are often voiceless, or a subject that needs to be addressed.”

Neimie-Benedetti joined the Women’s Business Center (WBC) this year, furthering her dedication to supporting women’s journeys as entrepreneurs. The WBC is a program of The Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), a 501(c)3 nonprofit, a US Treasury designated CDFI, and an Ohio-based Small Business Administration lender. Since its inception in 2004, ECDI has disbursed over $42 million across more than 2,000 loans, and has created or retained over 7,600 jobs across a diverse portfolio of local Ohio businesses. ECDI provides training for current and aspiring small business owners at the WBC, assisting Central Ohio’s community of women entrepreneurs to develop or expand their businesses. With co-working space, business development workshops and classes, and one-on-one business counseling with the center’s expert staff, the WBC supports and advocates for women entrepreneurs.

ECDIMarch3WBC staff have recently dedicated part of the center to an art wall, the Gallery, to display the works of WBC member artists from the Columbus area. Artists and entrepreneurs rely heavily on their unique understandings of imagination and perseverance in order to successfully promote their products. An artist’s ability to network within their community and develop relevant technical skills is similarly vital to an aspiring entrepreneur – and above all else, passion drives artists and entrepreneurs alike: an overwhelming faith in the value of their work, and a desire to make it more widely available to others.

Niemie-Benedetti was an easy choice to be the Gallery’s first featured artist, with a display of pieces from her series “Risk and Rebound.” As part of the Gallery wall program, she will have her work displayed at The Women’s Business Center for a three-month period. Her bio and contact information is prominently displayed next to the exhibit and the work is highlighted during events at ECDI.

Further information about WBC programs can be found at www.wbcohio.org.

Information about Riverview International Center is available here: www.riverviewinternationalcenter.org.

Prints of Niemie-Benedetti’s work are available for purchase by contacting her at: www.kbenedetti.com/kirsta.

Photos provided by ECDI.


Since 2004, ECDI has assisted Ohio’s entrepreneurs through their one-stop-shop business services model, suited to meet the needs of all entrepreneurs, regardless of what business stage they are in. From providing capital to entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses, to providing focused, business-specific educational opportunities to enhance entrepreneurial skill sets, ECDI works with their clients to meet their specific needs. Whether you merely have a business idea or are opening up your fifth location, ECDI’s “never say no” approach has allowed nearly 12,000 individuals to take advantage of the services they provide. Visit www.ecdi.org today to learn more.

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Betsy Blakley is an outreach & engagement specialist at ECDI. Betsy is a student intern through The Ohio State University who is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Social Work. Specializing in community and social justice, Betsy was drawn to ECDI due to a shared belief that addressing social inequities should be a priority for any organization. Betsy has previously worked with Columbus Public Health’s Health Equity department, and spent several years working with the Columbus Metropolitan Library system. Betsy holds a degree in Gender Studies from Mercer University.