ecdi trainings help prepare entrepreneurs for success

Denison University Social Entrepreneurship Workshop students creating business plans at ECDIDenison University Social Entrepreneurship Workshop students creating business plans at ECDI

The Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI) in Cleveland now offers several business training classes to get entrepreneurs off on the right foot when starting their businesses. The classes, which range from business information sessions to entrepreneurship readiness training, have already been quite successful in ECDI’s Columbus location.

ECDI provides microloans from $500 to $350,000 to startups trying to get off the ground, as well as technical assistance and training. Now the Cleveland office will offer four training classes that cover the critical components of success.

“Training is a necessary supplement to the lending process,” says ECDI’s training manager Lauren Smith. “We don’t want to drop a lump sum of money on our clients without providing them with the tools for using that money effectively. Our training will help start-ups be more responsible with the loan, more accomplished business owners, and a success story for everyone involved.”

ECDI started its Business Information sessions this week, and will offer them on a regular basis. The 45-minute session is an informational overview for prospective ECDI clients. “It’s the initial touch point for our training and education programs,” explains Smith. The next session will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 17th.

The Readiness and Feasibility course, offered on Wednesday, Feb. 18 at noon, has entrepreneurs evaluate the key points in starting a business. “We help them hash through their idea,” says Smith. “We help them determine if they have the characteristics to be in it for the long haul.” There is a $25 fee for ECDI members; non-members will be expected to fill out an application.

The Small Enterprise Education Development (SEED) training series provides four, three-hour sessions to more established entrepreneurs who are ready to move onto the next step in growing their ideas.

The SEED course focuses on four areas: business concept, organization, customer relations, and operations. The class uses an interactive tool called the GrowthWheel that helps entrepreneurs develop their business.  “It’s a user-friendly alternative to a business plan,” says Smith. The SEED program is a prerequisite for ECDI’s lending program. There is a $100 fee.

“We feel there is a definite need for training and counseling for more developed start-ups and existing businesses, and that will be a heavy focus of our ongoing training,” says Smith.

In April, ECDI will launch the Cleveland Culinary Launch and Kitchen’s (CCLK) Food Business Incubator program, an eight-week program that will be taught by local experts in the food industry. The program covers everything from developing a business plan to food regulations and labeling. The $300 fee includes an ECDI membership.

An application is required for the CCLK course. Contact Smith for more information or for an application.

Karin Connelly Rice
Karin Connelly Rice

About the Author: 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.