October 2021

New loan and grant programs available for minority- and women-owned businesses

Courtesy of The Columbus Dispatch
By Eric Thompson
October 29, 2021

Women and minority entrepreneurs can take advantage of recently announced loan and grant programs by the state of Ohio and Franklin County.

The Franklin County Community Equity Fund is supporting Black and brown-owned small businesses through the coronavirus pandemic with stabilization grants up to $10,000 each and startup grants up to $5,000 each.

Applicants who meet program requirements also are eligible for an additional $1,000 per W-2 employee (up to $5,000 each).

Applications for the grants are open through Nov. 8 and can be found through the Columbus Urban League website,

More: Columbus Foundation makes ‘game-changing’ investment in Columbus Urban League

The fund was created by the Franklin County Business Growth and Equity Alliance, a partnership between the Franklin County Board of Commissioners, One Columbus and the Columbus Urban League. The Board of Commissioners invested $1,000,050 in federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

“We’ve already received more than 3,500 applications for additional small business grants, requests that surpass $20 million,” said Stephanie Hightower, president and CEO of the Columbus Urban League. “This overwhelming demand is an exciting way of underlining how eager Black entrepreneurs are to be a part of an inclusive economy, one where all businesses thrive and serve all races.”

The stabilization grants, known as Open Doors grants, are available to Franklin County businesses with up to 25 employees, who started their business on or before Oct. 7, 2019.

The startup grants, known as New Ventures grants, are available to Franklin County businesses with up to 25 employees, who started operations between Oct. 8, 2019, and Sept. 7, 2021.

Earlier this month, Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted announced two new loan programs to benefit both minority- and women-owned businesses in Ohio.

The Women’s Business Enterprise Loan Program offers loans between $45,000 and $500,000 each—at or below market rate and currently as much as 3%. Eligible businesses must be certified as a Women-owned Business Enterprise (WBE).

The Ohio Micro-Enterprise Loan Program offers loans between $10,000 and $45,000 each at a 0% interest rate. Eligible businesses must be certified as a WBE or Minority-owned Business Enterprise (MBE).

More information can be found at

“Governor DeWine and Lt. Governor Husted have made clear since the start of their administration that everyone needs to share in Ohio’s success,” Director of Development Lydia Mihalik said in a news release. “These loans will provide a bridge to success for our many minority- and women-owned businesses across the state.”

The Women’s Business Enterprise Loan Program was written into the most recent $74 billion state budget at $10 million. The Ohio Women’s Coalition helped advocate for more financial support for women-owned businesses though meetings with government officials, including Mihalik.

More:Here’s how Ohio women advocated for business loan fund in the state budget

“When the budget was introduced, and I saw that $10 million loan (fund), I almost fell off my chair,” said Rachel Winder, founding executive director of the Ohio Women’s Coalition, in a previous interview with the Dispatch. “I didn’t know it was going to be included for sure. So, we’re super excited.”

According to guidelines, the loans will be repaid within 10 years for equipment and machinery and 15 years for owner-occupied real estate.

The Ohio Micro-Enterprise Loan Program also was written into the state budget at $10 million. Those loans will be repaid within five years for permanent working capital and seven years for equipment.

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