County announces continued support for ECDI small business lending

Cuyahoga County executive Armond Budish renewed the county’s commitment to making sure Cleveland small businesses get the funding they need for success. At a recent press conference at Toast wine bar, he announced a $2 million commitment by the county to the Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) for the continuation of the partnerships in the Cuyahoga County Microenterprise Loan Program.

“When I began my term I made it clear jobs are my top priority,” Budish said at the press conference. “Most jobs are created by small businesses, which struggle to grow because they can’t get funding.”
Budish cited Toast as one such business that has thrived because it received a small business loan from ECDI to open and then later expand. The restaurant and wine bar has created 13 jobs since opening.  “We need more businesses like Toast, so we are continuing our commitment,” he said.
With its initial funding from the city, ECDI has been able to provide 52 loans to 38 businesses in Northeast Ohio since it opened an office in Cleveland in 2013. “In 2013, the city provided a $550,000 investment to create a revolving loan fund,” explains ECDI vice president of lending and lending operations Greg Zucca. “With that money we were able to leverage an additional $1 million in lending capacity. Since then, we’ve exhausted those funds.”

ECDI founder and CEO Inna Kinney introduced Budish, thanking him and Cuyahoga County for the continued support.

The Cleveland Foundation also renewed its financial commitment to ECDI at the conference. “The Cleveland Foundation played a significant role in bringing ECDI to Cleveland in 2013,” says Cleveland Foundation president and CEO Ronn Richard. “Today, I am pleased to announce a $175,000 grant for lending.” The foundation has invested $1.6 million in ECDI since 2011.

In 2011, the Cleveland Foundation and the Business of Good Foundation studied the demand for microloans in Cuyahoga County, which found a $38 million gap in financing that was not being addressed by traditional banks. With that, ECDI Cleveland was established and the city of Cleveland helped the nonprofit organization establish a loan fund.

The money will fuel ECDI’s microloan program. “Really, it’s going to allow us to grow and expand our lending capacity in Cuyahoga County,” says Zucca. “This will give us the ability to bring on additional relationship managers and issue more loans.”

The County’s $2 million commitment will help boost the region’s economy by giving ECDI leverage to secure further funding, Zucca says. “It helps the city tremendously to have a much larger impact in helping small businesses by allowing us to work with banks and other funding institutions,” he says. “It has a much larger impact on the community.”

Many of the business that found funding and support through ECDI were present at the conference. Zucca then presented Jordan Oryszak, owner of the soon-to-be Plum Café and Kitchen with an oversized check for $33,000.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.