Economic development organizations announce area wide growth
By Terry Troy
REDI Cincinnati announced last week that 16 companies in Southwest Ohio received a JobsOhio Inclusion Grant in 2020, which supported the creation of 90 jobs, retaining 317 existing jobs, with a total of $735,000 in grants. In Central Ohio, the Inclusion Grant program assisted 28 companies in the Columbus Region since its inception in 2020, creating over 50 net new jobs, retaining more than 1,600 existing jobs and awarding nearly $900,000 in grants.
“It is critical that businesses owned by underrepresented populations or located in distressed communities be part of a full economic recovery,” said J.P. Nauseef, president and CEO of JobsOhio commenting on central Ohio’s growth. “Through these Inclusion Grants, we can assist nearly 30 of those businesses in the Columbus Region.”
The grants in mid-Ohio were distributed throughout six counties in the Columbus Region, with 10 companies located in Logan County, five in Knox County, four each in both Franklin County and in Pickaway County, three in Licking County and two in Marion County. Of the 28 companies that received Inclusion Grant funding, three were minority-owned, three were woman-owned and one was veteran-owned. The additional 21 companies were located in a qualified distressed community.
Spread out across five counties in Southwest Ohio, REDI Cincinnati was able to secure $1.1 million of grant support in 2020 to southwest Ohio small to medium-sized businesses in distressed communities and/or for businesses owned by underrepresented populations with the JobsOhio Inclusion Grant. The $1.1 million secured was offered to more than 25 companies. Sixteen of the 25 projects closed in 2020, representing $735,000 of the $1.1 million in grant offers.
Statewide, the program awarded over $4 million in Inclusion Grant funding during its first phase. The second round of funding opened on March 1, 2021.
The inclusion grant program was established in 2020 by JobsOhio with the goal of supporting minority, veteran, and women-owned businesses, as well as disadvantaged communities. The needs met by the grant have been further heightened by the COVID-19 pandemic which has magnified the challenges small businesses, including those with underrepresented leadership, experience with accessing capital.
“Over the last decade, more than half of all new businesses started in the country have been minority-owned and led, but they still struggle getting access to capital,” said Brandon Simmons, REDI Cincinnati vice president of project management. “JobsOhio’s commitment to supporting underrepresented businesses and communities through its inclusion grant is already paying dividends in Southwest Ohio.”
To qualify for the Inclusion Grant, a company must be owned by an underrepresented population – which includes consideration of geographic location, race, ethnicity, gender, veterans, and those with disabilities – or it must be located in a qualified distressed community as defined by the Economic Innovation Group. The grant may be put towards eligible costs including fixed asset investment in machinery and equipment, real estate investments and training costs, among other items.
In addition to the Inclusion Grants from JobsOhio, the State of Ohio last year announced $125 million in grant aid available for small business relief across the state. The goal is the funding at least 50 small businesses in each of Ohio’s 88 counties.