An op-ed from Michael Obi and Bethia Burke
CLEVELAND — In late July, the U.S. Economic Development Administration announced a $1.8 million award to support the Urban League of Greater Cleveland in launching a $2.25 million Revolving Loan Fund. The self-replenishing RLF will assist small businesses and entrepreneurs in Cuyahoga County with critical “gap” financing to rebuild and expand after the pandemic, paying special attention to businesses located in low-income areas. This is a huge win. But it didn’t happen without a strategic vision and deliberate coordination to shift the course of Northeast Ohio’s recovery in the right direction.
Authors’ note: In this op-ed, we lifted up the Greater Cleveland Urban League’s winning of a $1.8 million EDA grant to support a Revolving Loan Fund for Cleveland businesses. Our primary intention was to highlight how our collaboration throughout the application process enabled this success. But we left out a few important details. We alluded to the match funding secured as a requirement of the application, but we should have also called attention to the organizations that stepped up to contribute a total of $450,000; without these commitments, the grant would not have been possible. Cuyahoga County, which supported the initial launch of UBIZ in the spring of 2020, committed an additional $200,000 in match funding. Additional funding came from Cleveland Development Advisors, FirstEnergy, PNC Bank, and UBIZ, in addition to the funding referenced in the story from the Fund, The George Gund Foundation and the Cleveland Foundation. Their commitment to reducing disparities for Cleveland business owners in disinvested neighborhoods is exactly the kind of support and collaboration the article lauded. We couldn’t ask for better partners in this important work.