SBA, FitzGerald, Advocates Announce New Economic Development Initiative for Small Business Community

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CLEVELAND – Officials from the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) joined Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, Urban League of Cleveland President Marsha Mockabee, Shaker Heights Mayor Earl Leiken, and Cleveland Director of Economic Development Tracey Nichols this morning for a press conference to announce the Municipal-County Small Business Initiative to support innovators, entrepreneurs, and start-ups in Northeast Ohio.

“I applaud the collaborative effort which brought the Municipal Small Business Initiative to fruition. The Urban League of Greater Cleveland along with the Small Business Development Center, Cuyahoga County, the Cities of Cleveland and Shaker Heights, small business lenders, and the SBA have come together to create new opportunities for small business that will inevitably lead to economic growth and job creation. We look forward to witnessing the entrepreneurial successes this initiative will bring to the Great Lakes Region,” said Marianne Markowitz, Regional Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration.

The pilot program announced today will match Federal and local resources to help businesses grow. Small businesses that commit 10% of the equity required to support a new project will be eligible to receive SBA-backed loans for 75% and a performance grant for the remaining 15%, as well as technical assistance to help expand their operations in Cuyahoga County.

“Small businesses make up the backbone of Ohio’s economy, and we need to ensure they have the tools and resources they need to compete today in a global economy,” said FitzGerald. “I applaud our partners and stakeholders for making this new initiative possible for small business owners in Cuyahoga County.”

Cuyahoga County will prepare agreements for participating municipalities and provide dollar-for-dollar funding to match municipal participation, up to $500,000 per city. In addition, SBA will provide guarantees for bank loans, and follow up with financial institutions or certified development companies after a determination of eligibility for the program. The Urban League’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) will offer participating small business owners technical assistance and help ensure program inclusivity by marketing the initiative in local neighborhoods.

“The Urban League of Greater Cleveland is pleased to be a critical partner to this effort,” added Marsha Mockabee, President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Cleveland. “We know first-hand the challenges that underrepresented businesses face in getting access to capital for business growth and development.”

Applications will be processed by the City of Cleveland or the City of Shaker Heights, with preliminary acceptance letter letters going out to local entrepreneurs and participating lenders. The lenders will work with SBA to obtain a SBA-guaranteed loan, which is a requirement of the initiative. If the small business is approved for a SBA-guaranteed loan, completes technical assistance, and provides the required 10% equity investment, the participating municipality and SBA lender will fund the project concurrently.

“We are grateful to the SBA, Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald and the County Council for providing the funding for this important project,” said Shaker Heights Mayor Earl M. Leiken. “We are also pleased to be one of the first cities participating, together with the City of Cleveland. This initiative comes at a pivotal time for economic development in Shaker Heights. The program will allow new businesses to join our community and existing businesses to make necessary improvements for expansion within the city. This will be good for producing jobs and business development which will greatly benefit our Shaker community.”

For additional information on this new program, contact Raymond Graves at the SBA by calling (216) 522-4192.