State-Sponsored Initiatives Promote Job Creation, Business Growth

The Ohio Department of Development has teamed with several other state agencies to launch two new programs− one will foster self- employment opportunities, while the other will help small businesses gain access to capital.

On Wednesday, ODOD’s Division of Entrepreneurship and Small Business and the Ohio Rehabilitation Services Commission rolled out  Ohio Abilities: Neighbors Creating Jobs and Wealth, which will support small business owners and entrepreneurs with disabilities as they start and grow enterprises.

“Ohioans with disabilities have amazing gifts and talents to share,” says RSC Administrator Michael Rench.

“We have a firm commitment to ensuring future business owners with disabilities have the best resources to build their businesses and strengthen their communities,” he adds.

Under Ohio Abilities, ODOD Small Business Development Centers will provide self-employment and business counseling, market training, and technical assistance to Ohioans who receive services through RSC.

Further, RSC vocational rehab counselors will work in concert with SBDC counselors to assess self-employment or business plan feasibility and cash flow projections.

Ohio Abilities will use $1.1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding to support the program and $883,000 in vocational rehab funding for business grants.

Additionally, RSC has used $1.3 million in ARRA funds to hire Middletown, Ohio-based Griffin-Hammis Associates to provide training for up to 900 RSC staff and community partners.

GHA also will work with 48 to 60 entrepreneurs with disabilities at six sites across Ohio, including the Columbus Speech & Hearing Center.

A second ODOD-sponsored program, the Ohio Business Lending Clearinghouse, was unveiled yesterday.

The BLC, a joint effort that includes the Treasurer of State, Ohio’s SBDCs and participating financial institutions, will enable small business owners to simultaneously apply for loans from numerous lenders.

“One of the biggest challenges facing small businesses today is finding capital to grow their companies,” says ODOD Director Lisa Patt-McDaniel.

“Our goal is to help connect business with Ohio lenders who are interested in extending loans to qualified businesses,” she continues. “We also want to help steer small businesses toward resources in Ohio that can assist them with their business development plans.”

Small business owners who visit the BLC website will answer questions about their loan request and their business in three steps. Participating lenders receive the loan profile and evaluate it within 48 hours. Then, interested lenders will contact owners.

“Knowing a financial institution’s business model and service footprint enables us to make connections more readily and can save small businesses valuable time and effort, while potentially bringing additional business to Ohio lenders,” says Ohio Treasurer Kevin Boyce.

Should an owner be ineligible for a loan from a participating lender, they will be referred to one of the SBDCs, which can provide counsel on development issues, like business plans, and direct them to additional resources.

To learn more about Ohio Abilities: Neighbors Creating Jobs and Wealth, visit RSC.Ohio.gov/OhioAbilities.

To learn more about the Ohio Business Lending Clearinghouse, visit OhioBLC.com.