The Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) is a one-stop-shop development center for small businesses. In addition to providing entrepreneurs with affordable and responsible loan products, ECDI provides one-on-one technical assistance and access to a wide variety of trainings and workshops—services that are designed to meet the needs of small business owners at every stage of the entrepreneurial journey.
ECDI wants every entrepreneur to be successful, but we also know that starting, and maintaining, a business is difficult. There are a lot of bumps and twists on the entrepreneurial journey and they can create significant barriers to success. But we also know that individualized coaching, combined with hands-on trainings, is a proven and effective way to help small business owners successfully start – and stay – in business. That is why ECDI staff provide one-on-one technical assistance to clients before, during and after the life of their loan.
Before obtaining a loan, ECDI’s relationship managers review the clients’ financials and credit, help them develop a business plan, and create an action-oriented plan with steps to get clients loan ready and put them on the path to sustainable success. Once a client receives funding, relationship managers continue to provide ongoing technical assistance, advising on topics such as financial management, marketing and branding, and how to plan for the future. ECDI’s relationship managers are trusted advisors who are there to answer questions, provide guidance, and help clients overcome any obstacle they meet.
Lisa Timley, owner of Hollywood Cleaning LLC, is a small business owner who recognized the importance of training and technical assistance early on in her entrepreneurial journey and has continued to utilize these services to grow and strengthen her business. Hollywood Cleaning opened in 2014, but she’s had visions of starting her own business for nearly two decades.
“I wanted to do something that would always be around and be able to help those other people increase their financial situations,” Timley says.
Starting her own business was the answer.
While she was working other jobs, Timley made inquiries into how to start a company. Once her children graduated from school, she knew that she was ready for a change.
“I got to where sitting in a cubicle all day was not for me,” Timley says.
So she went back to school and after a great deal of hard work, obtained her Associate Degree in Accounting, a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice, and the necessary certifications to start and grow her own business. Hollywood Cleaning LLC was born.
Hollywood Cleaning provides quality janitorial services for residential, industrial and commercial clientele in Ohio. Timley originally started her business with a focus on residential cleaning, but shortly after launching she won a small commercial contract from Elford Construction. It soon became clear to Timley that the commercial and industrial sectors would provide more opportunities for growth.
Over the last four years, Timley has built her company to be construction-industry focused, but this focus has come with its own unique set of challenges, including cash-flow gaps, lack of access to networking and bid opportunities, and others. Never one to give up when faced with obstacles, Timley looked around for help and found ECDI’s Capital for Construction program.
In 2017, ECDI launched Capital for Construction (CfC), a Central Ohio-based program designed to address the financing gaps that minority construction contractors, and allied-industry business owners like Timley, face when submitting bids for construction projects. CfC addresses the barriers to entry and sustainability faced by minority firms through a multi-pronged approach: flexible loan products designed for construction industry businesses and industry-specific one-on-one technical assistance and training sessions.
Timley has taken full advantage of CfC utilizing every component of the program. She first came to CfC for a business loan, but she soon learned that our staff could provide tailored, supportive services beyond loan products, including one-on-one technical assistance. At that point in time, Timley was having a difficult time managing her cash flow due to the delayed payment aspect of the construction industry.
“I had to use some of my 401k money from my prior jobs in order to sustain the small expenses that came with obtaining labor and expenses,” she says.
This was unsustainable, so Jesse Mark, CfC’s program manager, worked one-on-one with Timley to find a solution to this problem.
“We reviewed Hollywood’s financials and knew Lisa was in a crunch,” Mark says. “Understanding that Mrs. Timley’s business was growing (by proof of her outstanding contracts) and her excellent history with ECDI, we proposed a plan to solve her cash-flow concerns by restructuring some business debts- freeing up more than $500/month. Hollywood Cleaning should be debt free within the year. It’s a win-win!”
In addition to accessing capital and personal coaching, Timley has also taken advantage of CfC’s full suite of industry-specific trainings and workshops. Through CfC’s Certification workshop, she obtained her Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification, which has helped her business grow.
“Having this certification has enabled me to have the opportunity to bid on jobs and projects that I otherwise would not have been able to bid on—companies that are required to use MBE companies,” Timley says.
CfC classes cover a wide variety of topics including estimates, understanding the bid process, and insurance requirements. These trainings are taught by experts from fully-established construction companies, giving participants like Timley pertinent and up-to-date industry knowledge.
“I continually take classes that are designed to help businesses stay in the loop as well as refreshers,” she says.
Just as importantly, CfC trainings enable participants to network with partners and potential general contractors, creating opportunities for business growth. Hollywood Cleaning was recently hired by General Contractor Smoot Construction to work with Smoot on Phase III of the Poindexter Village redevelopment project, which will provide affordable housing for low-income families. This contract is important to Timley, and not just because it may generate more business with Smoot due to their excellent janitorial services.
“We have labor that lives in the area and as we obtain more of the buildings, we will be able to employ more people,” she says.
Hollywood Cleaning Services has become the driving force for community economic change that Timley envisioned her business would become all those years ago.
CfC’s first year was incredibly successful. ECDI disbursed nearly $700,000 to 11 minority construction and industry-related businesses, provided training and technical assistance to 64 businesses, and created/ retained 70 jobs. It became clear that ECDI was addressing a need in the Central Ohio construction industry, and since then ECDI has been working to expand the program to provide even more support both in Central Ohio and across the state. ECDI has developed partnerships with large construction firms, including Smoot Construction, to provide guidance and contract opportunities for CfC clients to help take their businesses to the next level.
For more information, visit ecdi.org.
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.