Community Empowerment Initiative

In 2015, in an effort to bolster capacity building offerings to our membership, OCDCA, with member, board, and a separate case development group’s support, embarked on a year and a half planning journey to create the Community Empowerment Initiative. This initiative encapsulates three programs that ultimately strive to empower communities; people and place. Below you can learn more about the three programs: Empowering Communities, the Social Enterprise Incubation Program, and the Microbusiness Recoverable Grant Fund.

Social Enterprise Incubation Program

Community development corporations (CDCs) exist to empower and uplift their communities. CDC activities include community economic development, affordable housing, financial empowerment, community engagement, and local food access. Ideally, these organizations would focus all of their time on fulfilling their mission, but instead they must adapt to the new reality of decreased government funding and decreased charitable giving for nonprofit community development organizations. Thus more of their time is spent fundraising rather than pursuing their mission and serving the families in their neighborhood’s footprint.

Community development organizations need access to resources that help them create
sustainable social enterprises that help them achieve their mission while becoming
financially stable.

Empowering Communities

On a state level, our communities face numerous challenges: foreclosures, safety, education, good jobs, equity, health. While programs exist to tackle all of these issues, their reach may be limited, as one challenge often feeds into another. Change does not occur in a vacuum. The movement for comprehensive community change has seen much traction nationally, especially through initiatives such as Purpose Built Communities, Better Block programs, and CHOICE Neighborhoods. Many of these initiatives maintain specific focus points but, in the uncertain economic and political climate of the 21st century, no one can know what the next major community challenge may be. Access to resources to seed fund community development innovation remains a challenge. Community development organizations not only listen to their community, but work
directly with their neighbors to respond to these pressing problems. 

Community development organizations need a mechanism to synthesize ideas and
neighborhood feedback to develop innovative, homegrown solutions to their unique
challenges. In doing so, they empower their communities.

Ohio Microbusiness Recoverable Grant fund

There are almost 28 million small businesses in the U.S. and over 22 million are microbusinesses with no additional payroll or employees. These businesses are sources
of local and personal pride in their communities. The U.S. Small Business Administration found that since 1995, 2 out of every 3 new jobs created have come from small businesses. They are indeed the backbone of the economy, but many entrepreneurs lack access to traditional banking resources. In 2013, OCDCA began administration of the Ohio Microbusiness Development Grant Program (OMBDP) via the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA). The OMBDP provides funding support on a competitive basis to 13 community development organizations to foster microbusiness development for low-to-moderate income entrepreneurs in the form of training, technical assistance, and loan fund development. Through this program, community development organizations strengthen the economic health of their communities by investing time and resources into these microbusinesses, which become community assets.

OCDCA has created the Ohio Microbusiness Recoverable Grant Fund to provide a
sustainable pool of funding to these community development organizations, who can
then use the funds to make loans to local microentrepreneurs in their community.