Finance Fund re-energizes communities by assisting promising biz owners

Finance Fund has steadily been helping entrepreneurs throughout Ohio for more than two decades.

The Columbus-based non-profit intermediary was founded in 1987, and through 2011 it has invested more than $195.5 million in small business entrepreneurship, community facility projects, commercial revitalization, and housing and economic development, leveraging more than $1 billion in project funding.

In 2011 alone, Finance Fund managed more than $153.3 million in assets and funded 84 projects that produced 1,979 direct jobs.

“The small businesses we fund positively impact their local communities,” says Jennifer Deuber Winchester, director of communications for Finance Fund.

“They drive economic growth, create jobs, address community needs, and improve the quality of life in Ohio’s underserved communities, ” she continues. “Our passion is in overcoming financial roadblocks that could keep economically viable business ideas from getting under way because they do not qualify for a traditional bank loan.

When Finance Fund considers funding a project, its staff evaluates three factors: whether it’s something the community wants, whether it’s high-impact, and whether it’s catalytic.

If an entrepreneur thinks their business idea fits the bill, they should make an appointment with one of Finance Fund’s program loan officers.

“They will talk to the business owner about their specific situation, go over the items needed for review before applying −financial information, business plans, etc.− and talk about what they might be eligible for in regards to our funding programs,” she says. “Depending on their business, their geographic location, the community served, or their for-profit or non-profit status, different types of funds are available.”

Besides funding through Finance Fund, program loan officers might help them achieve their goals by tailoring a program to their unique needs, and providing funding application help, business planning advice and bank networking assistance as needed.

Finance Fund operates under the assumption that communities know best when it comes to determining what’s needed in their own backyard, she says. Its clients are those who believe free-market principles can work by activating the potential in people, neighborhoods, and organizations.

Finance Fund pursues support from several sources.

In 2011, it received $3.923 million from public investors, such as the Ohio Department of Development, the Ohio Housing Trust, and the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Last year it also received $1.114 million from private investors, such as the Calvert Social Investment Foundation, PNC Bank, and Trinity Health.

“Our 25-year history sets the stage for our future,” Deuber Winchester says. “We are constantly evolving to meet community needs with new products and services, new investors and funding sources.”

To learn more about Finance Fund, visit

To contact a Finance Fund program loan officer, call 614-221-1114 or 800-959-2333.