The nation faces an unprecedented challenge as the country grapples with its response to the coronavirus pandemic.
As bars and restaurants are shuttered to dine-in patrons and non-essential businesses ordered closed, small business owners across industries in every corner of the state, from large cities to small towns, are wondering how they will get through the next days, weeks and months.
In the weeks since orders and restrictions began, response at a local, state and federal level is changing by the hour.
In Columbus and across the state, ECDI is helping small business owners try to navigate these uncertain waters, and not only address immediate needs, but plan for when the pandemic is over.
“Our response is changing daily not knowing what’s going to happen, so we have to be fluid and patient,” says ECDI Founder & CEO Inna Kinney.
ECDI is ready to assist both its existing clients and new businesses seeking resources. Kinney says every business will have different needs, so the organization is focused on being as responsive as possible and presenting as many options as possible.
The first step a business owner should take to find resources through ECDI is to connect via the organization’s website or call. From there it’s a triage approach to funnel businesses to the resources that make sense for their situation – whether it’s loans, online trainings, webinars or other resources.
Many businesses are finding themselves in need of working capital to cover basic expenses. As a statewide SBA lender, ECDI has a variety of loan products available to businesses. On March 24, the organization was also awarded $500,000 in funding from the Franklin County Commissioners. ECDI will be able to leverage that money in order to provide $2 million in market-rate small business loans that can be used for things like payroll, inventory, or other working capital.
Loan amounts leveraged from the Commissioner’s fund will range from $750 – $50,000. Businesses should contact ECDI for details on eligibility and application.
ECDI can also help businesses apply for SBA loans. Businesses in the state of Ohio are eligible for the SBA’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan program which provides working capital loans of up to $2 million. Loans may be used by small business owners to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact.
While the SBA loans are available, Kinney says there is not a lot of information on how long the process will take and when businesses might receive money. The same goes for the $350 billion in small business loans included in the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act signed by President Donald Trump on Friday, March 27. Kinney hopes that the response will be quick, but such funding typically has to go to various agencies to develop processes and procedures before it is deployed.
“That’s why it’s so important to have local support,” Kinney says.
To help respond to more urgent needs in the community, ECDI has set up a donation page on its website.
“These donations will help ECDI to immediately address the needs of small businesses,” Kinney says.
ECDI is working with financial institutions to figure out ways they can support businesses through the crisis as well, but Kinney believes it is not only going to take these institutions to help with solutions, but the support of local corporations and individuals.
“The response has to be local in nature and we all have to respond together,” Kinney says.
From ECDI, to banks, to landlords, it will take everyone working together to create the best possible path forward for small business survival.
Kinney knows it’s hard to plan during an ever-evolving situation, but without immediate response, impacts like three-quarters of small restaurants not reopening, are a distinct possibility. Businesses not only need support now, but when they do reopen.
Over the last 15 years, ECDI has created and retained 10,000 plus jobs – jobs Kinney hopes are still there when the pandemic is over. For that reason, Kinney is focused on a new word – restoration.
“This is our mission moving forward is to restore jobs and restore these businesses to where they were and make them even stronger as a result of this,” Kinney says.
For more information, visit ecdi.org.
Click here to donate to ECDI.
This mutli-part sponsored series highlighting ECDI’s work in Columbus is presented with paid support by ECDI.
Since 2004, ECDI has assisted Ohio’s entrepreneurs through its one-stop shop business services model, suited to meet the needs of all entrepreneurs, regardless of what business stage they’re 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 unique needs. Whether assisting a new client with a business concept or an accomplished entrepreneur opening a fifth location, ECDI’s “never say no” approach has allowed over twelve thousand entrepreneurs to take advantage of the services it provides. Visit ecdi.org today to learn more.