ECDI Welcomes Public to Its New Home

The Economic and Community Development Institute on Monday is hosting an open house at its new facilities at 1655 Old Leonard Ave. in Columbus.

The two-hour event, called A Taste of ECDI, begins at 5:30 p.m.

“We want to say thanks to our funders, clients, and stakeholders,” says Evelyn Ebert, ECDI’s marketing and communications coordinator.

“Second, we want to brag about our new building!,” she continues. “Finally, although ECDI has put over $8 million in loans on the street since 2004, a lot of people don’t know who we are. This is a chance for us to showcase our accomplishments and introduce ourselves to the community.”

As Ebert noted, attendees will have the chance to tour ECDI’s new offices, as well as the site of its future kitchen incubator and food cart commissary− appropriate additions, as about 18 percent of the businesses ECDI has funded since its inception have been food-based.

“Through these relationships with entrepreneurs and a more formal market study of the resources available to Ohio’s food entrepreneurs, we have identified the need for a high-quality, licensed food cart commissary and for affordable, shared commercial bakery space,” Ebert says.

By law, food carts are required to operate in conjunction with a licensed commissary that, at a minimum, provides space for waste water disposal, cart storage and cleaning, dry and cold food storage facilities, and space for light food preparation, she notes.

More than 600 food carts are licensed by the city of Columbus every year, but there is a shortage of commissary space for those carts, and the commissaries that are operational are often unsafe and have poor security, she adds. Additionally, bakers and caterers who do not have commercial kitchen space from which to prepare foods are forced to work in their home kitchens, decreasing their efficiency and causing food safety concerns.

“ECDI’s planned facility will address these, which will, in turn, increase the safety and profitability of the businesses that rent space in the facility, leading to business stabilization and expansion and, ultimately, job creation and retention,” she says.

Eighteen clients will be showcasing their goods during A Taste of ECDI, including Betty’s Family of Restaurants, Sidecar Global Catering (owned and operated by Barcelona restaurant), Taste of Belgium, 3 Babes and a Baker, Luna Burger, Food for Good Thought, Bleu and Fig, J. Gumbo’s, Buckeye Brittle, Serendipity Shoppe, Delicacies by Sheri, and Sher Bliss Wines & Chocolates.

The Ohio Grape Industries Committee and JC’s Sweet Tea and Beer will provide wine and iced tea, respectively.

The event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, visit ATasteofECDI.eventbrite.com.