When it comes to economic development, there is, as they say, more than one way to skin a rabbit. ECDI’s Minor Home Repair Program, funded by the City of Columbus, Franklin County and the State of Ohio, is an example of a program that provides a layered type of economic and community development that isn’t predicated on investing capital. Senior and disabled residents in Central Ohio receive needed home repairs to address safety hazards, substandard features and accessibility issues, preserving their dignity, comfort and independence, while also providing contracting opportunities for local entrepreneurs.
“The work is steady with help from ECDI and Lifecare Alliance,” says Alex Dashkovsky, owner of Quality Paint, an ECDI-approved contractor. “It’s much easier… I don’t have to worry if I’m not on one job. My guys are constantly out there and I can pull them away to do some projects as they appear.”
Dashkovsky started his business in 2005, enrolling at Columbus State to study construction management. Realizing he had a natural knack for the industry, he started his own company, which grew quickly until the 2008 recession. Unfortunately, Dashkovsky had to put his business on hold as the workload decreased.
When the housing market began to turn around, Quality Paint found its way with help from ECDI. Dashkovsky, now with eight employees, soon found out lending was not the only way for small businesses in Columbus to utilize ECDI’s comprehensive suite of services. The organization is an innovator in business incubation and technical assistance.
In order to even begin contracting work with ECDI, Dashkovsky needed his general construction license for home improvement. With the help of Pat Peakes, ECDI Home Repair Director, Dashkovsky became fully licensed, allowing his business to once again flourish.
Today, Quality Painting receives consistent job awards through ECDI to enhance the lives of Central Ohio’s elderly and disabled populations. According to Dashkovsky:
Most of what we do for ECDI is dealing with a lot of accessibility issues, making sure people can get in and out of bathrooms. If they’re handicapped, putting in a handicap toilet for them, making sure they have hot water. In summer and winter, we do a lot of heating and cooling calls because we’re certified. We walk into certain places and people are on oxygen trying to survive when its 92 and the humidity is like 100 percent. With those types of jobs, we drop everything and run because we know what is at stake. It’s not them being uncomfortable; it’s them being able to survive. We do a lot of door replacements, fixing trip hazards and lighting…sometimes it’s simply the little things like having a grab bar in the bathroom so you can take a bath by yourself.
The work is rewarding. As ECDI finds pride in watching a business grow, Dashkovsky is warmed by reactions of those he serves.
Walid Ali of Across the States Construction has had a similar experience, though the path he’s taken has been different.
A refugee from Iraq, he started his construction business in June of 2013. In Iraq, Ali assisted the U.S. Army as a translator working with coalition forces to assist with breaking down language barriers. Eventually he began doing contracting work with a relative on the military base and for the community – assisting with projects, rehabbing schools, roads, hospitals and government buildings. After a lengthy application process completed in Yemen, he was accepted into the U.S. as a refugee and was able to find work as a translator for Community and Refugee Immigration Services.
Ali needed assistance to start his business, and like Dashkovsky, came to ECDI. He participated in ECDI’S Individual Account Program, where he saved money to receive additional matching funds to purchase a van for his business. An additional loan from ECDI helped with materials and working capital and, according to Walid, “With the help of Pat Peakes I was able to get my Home Improvement License. ECDI was very helpful, providing me with all the tools I needed to start my business.”
Ali is passionate about his work, and his own experience has made him more aware of the need to help refugees assimilate to the U.S. business culture. He hopes it’s an issue recognized statewide.
“I’m thankful for what ECDI is doing for the refugee community in Columbus,” Ali says. “For us, coming from overseas, it was very hard. The language barrier wasn’t my problem, but the culture shock was. Refugees are pushed to leave their homes. Refugees need some additional care.”
ECDI and clients like Ali and Dashkovsky share a for passion assisting those that are vulnerable through community development.
“I think this is a keystone of the community,” says Dashkovsky. “When my grandparents were around, they could have used this program. It’s going to keep a lot of seniors in their homes, keep them more comfortable and able to take care of themselves. ECDI provides essential programs. Without it a lot of people would have to leave their homes.”
— If interested in home repair services from Quality Paint, you can reach Alex Dashkovsky at [email protected], to contact Across The States Construction, email [email protected]. Visit ECDI.org to learn more about their extensive suite of services. —