ECDI Reflects on 15 Years

ECDI opened its Food Fort 2.0 in October 2019 - Photo by Susan Post

ECDI has been serving entrepreneurs and small business owners across Central Ohio and the state since 2004. The organization’s one-stop-shop business services model provides capital, educational opportunities, specialized resources and more to budding business owner to experienced entrepreneurs.

ECDI recently released its 15-Year Impact Report, detailing its numbers from the last decade and a half. Since 2004, ECDI has:

  • Disbursed 2,550 loans
  • Deployed $56.4 million in capital
  • Created 3,739 jobs
  • Retained 4,587 jobs
  • Assisted 16,918 individuals since FY 16

“From providing capital for entrepreneurs looking to expand their businesses to business-specific educational opportunities enhancing entrepreneurial skill sets, ECDI’s services are tailored to meet individual needs. Whether the client is still in the idea stage seeking $750 of seed capital or expanding to a fifth location in need of $350,000, ECDI’s “never say no” approach has resulted in significant economic impact across the state – creating or retaining more than 8,000 jobs.”

– Inna Kinney Founder & CEO and Steve Fireman President & General Counsel

Over the last decade and a half, ECDI has expanded its resources across the state, now operating offices in Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Toledo. In 2018, the organization sought to analyze the overall impact their state-wide reach has on the economy.

With support from the Mastercard Foundation, local economist Bill Lafayette studied the overall economic impact of ECDI’s lending to Ohio entrepreneurs. He created a survey measuring impacts including output (production and spending), household earnings and employment across three levels:

  • Direct Impact – the impact on ECDI clients themselves
  • Indirect Impact – the impact on supplier to the client
  • Induced Impact – the impact of household spending of the owners and employees of both client businesses and suppliers

Based on the results Lafayette found that the impact on the Ohio economy of ECDI’s active clients exceeds $1 billion annually.

Specialized resources and evolving programing help ECDI to reach that billion dollars of annual impact. On a more granular level, the report also looked at the last 18 months of data for ECDI overall, as well as for the organization’s targeted programming like the Women’s Business Center and the Food Fort.

Over the past 18 months, ECDI has disbursed 435 loans totaling $11,654,929. Of those 400 plus loans, 67% have been disbursed to minorities, 43% to low-to-moderate income individuals, and 54% to women.

In addition to awarding more than half of loans to women, ECDI has specialized resources directed at female entrepreneurs. Serving Central, Northern and Southern Ohio, the ECDI’s Women’s Business Centers of Ohio provide one-on-one counseling, training, workshops, access to small business loans and more to empower women business owners. The last 18 months saw the WBC provide coaching to 934 individuals. These entrepreneurs created or retained 607 jobs and created 319 businesses. WBC members, numbering 609, received $4,815,125 in funding.

The last several months have brought changes to ECDI’s Food Fort that will allow the resource provider to expand its impact. In October 2019, ECDI opened Food Fort 2.0, creating a transitional commercial kitchen space for successful clients outgrowing the original location, but not yet ready to move out on their own. Helping food-based businesses stabilize and scale, while ECDI owns the Food Fort facilities, each client retains 100% equity in their business. Over the last 18 months, the Food Fort has served 50 entrepreneurs who have netted $677,691 in capital.

Entering its fourth year, the report took stock of the newer Capital for Construction program. Designed to address the financing gaps that minority construction contractors and allied-industry business owners face, CfC provides flexible loan products designed for construction industry businesses and industry-specific one-on-one technical assistance and training sessions. To date, the program has served more than 350 small, minority-owned construction subcontracting firms, awarding $2,545,000 in loans.

ECDI’s 15-Year Impact Report is available here. For more information on ECDI and its various resources, visit