The Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI) is set to receive a $250,000 grant from the U.S. Small Business Administration to help low-income entrepreneurs gain access to capital through the Program for Investment in Micro-Entrepreneurs, more commonly known as PRIME.

This award will support ECDI’s efforts to assist up to 40 microenterprise development organizations through capacity building services that will increase access to small business capital in rural communities and Opportunity Zones throughout the state.

“These funds from the SBA will help ECDI make an impact on entrepreneurs trying to take their business to the next level and make it sustainable during this challenging time,” SBA Great Lakes Regional Administrator Rob Scott said. “This business development also will make an impact on local economies and help spur economic development and job creation in distressed areas, which is a key element of SBA’s strategy.”
 
For 2020, the SBA placed special emphasis on projects designed to offer training and technical assistance to strengthen economically disadvantaged businesses, particularly those projects serving entrepreneurs in Opportunity Zones, rural areas and Historically Underutilized Business Zones. The 30 PRIME grant recipients represent 19 states and 23 are in Opportunity Zones created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and designed to spur new capital investment in America’s economically distressed communities. Nearly 9,000 communities in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five territories are designated as Opportunity Zones.
 
“More than 300 communities in Ohio have been designated as Opportunity Zones, and the PRIME grant provides ECDI the essential funding required to support entrepreneurs in these underserved communities,” said SBA Central and Southern Ohio District Director Everett Woodel. “We could not be prouder of the vital role ECDI plays in creating and retaining jobs throughout Ohio, and we are excited to see the impact they will make by utilizing this grant.”
 
Since 2005, ECDI has invested in people to create measurable and enduring social and economic change. ECDI assists underserved entrepreneurs through loans ranging from $750 to $350,000 and is a CDFI and an SBA Intermediary Microlender, Community Advantage Lender and 504 CDC serving all 88 Ohio counties.
 
“There is unprecedented need for access to business capital,” Kinney said. “Since March, we have increased our loan volume by more than 300 percent in response to the demand caused by these uncertain economic conditions. We are committed to seeing that the entrepreneurs we serve have the resources, training and capital they need to weather the pandemic and emerge stronger through these challenging times. We are grateful for the SBA’s ongoing partnership in supporting and growing small businesses and the people and communities they represent throughout the state of Ohio.”

This year, more than 120 organizations applied for PRIME grants, which range from $75,000 to $250,000 and typically require at least 50 percent in matching funds or in-kind contributions. PRIME was created by Congress as part of the Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs Act of 1999. Grant funds will be made available on Sept. 30, 2020, and the project period for each grant is one year.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration:

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.

For more on ECDI, go to https://www.ecdi.org.