A business incubator and drop-in center targeting entrepreneurs in lower- and middle-income brackets will open as soon as its furniture gets delivered in a former warehouse attached to the Economic & Community Development Institute, said Steve Fireman, the nonprofit’s president.

The Business Incubation Center will have ECDI staff, a relocated Women’s Business Center and walk-in co-working space with reference materials and some computer workstations. The city of Columbus and JPMorgan Chase & Co. are sponsoring the space at 1655 Old Leonard on Columbus’ near east side. ECDI is open to other sponsorships, Fireman said.

Fireman mentioned the coming incubator in an aside during a panel discussion on small-business resources in Columbus as part of Columbus Startup Week, also Chase-sponsored. I caught up with him for details afterward.

Many businesses starting out can’t afford even $100 monthly fees for co-working space, so memberships will be charged on an income-based scale, he said. ECDI wants to attract entrepreneurs before they make an imprudent decision like signing a lease on a property with the wrong zoning.

“We’re trying to have a place for people to come and slow down,” he said.

ECDI has federal and private funds for small business lending, which comes with extensive planning and coaching support. The nonprofit was featured in the panel along with Ryan Schick, small business concierge for the city of Columbus, and Martin Golden, Columbus-based district director for the U.S. Small Business Administration. (SBA’s only other Ohio district covers Cleveland and 16 northeast counties.)

Published in Upstart Business Journal, May 5, 2016

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