Start-Up & Small Business Resources

The Crawford Partnership is happy to announce our first celebration of Economic Development Week, an initiative started by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) in 2016 to recognize the work of economic development organizations and professionals in their communities. We’d like to celebrate this week by a daily educational and informative series about different aspects of economic development. David Zak, the president & CEO of the Partnership, with nearly 30 years experience in economic development shares the history of entrepreneurship programs and programs available.


To continue celebrating Economic Development Week, I thought I would turn the spotlight on start-up and small business resources. The history of entrepreneurship programs, including the development of Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), began with the post-World War II era’s focus on supporting returning veterans’ entrepreneurial endeavors. The passage of the Small Business Act in 1953 led to the establishment of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which played a pivotal role in providing resources and assistance to small businesses. The Batavia Industrial Center in Batavia, New York, founded by Joseph Mancuso in 1959, is thought to be the first example of a business incubator offering comprehensive support, including consulting, training, and access to resources. The concept of Small Business Development Centers emerged in the late 1970s, with the Over time, entrepreneurship programs expanded to include incubators, accelerators, and educational initiatives, reflecting a continuous commitment to fostering innovation, economic growth, and small business success.

Today in Crawford County, we have a number of resources, and we have a steady request to advise – and this is one of our roles (program services. In addition to our Chambers of Commerce (I would recommend any new business to join), which have a whole host of resources, our other main resources for business start-ups, entrepreneurs, and small business owners are the following. This is in addition to the financing and funding programs we will talk about tomorrow. Please contact us or refer any entrepreneurs to us. We’re happy to review these with them and discuss which programs make the most sense and to make referrals and/or connections. The main categories or organizations providing these programs are the following: 

  • Braintree – Amazing state-supported Entrepreneurial Service Provider serving Crawford County, based in Mansfield.
  • Crawford County – We’ve just started launching some programs here, including CBX, Innovate Crawford, the exciting Galion Depot Loft, which adds to the Bucyrus Public Library space.
  • Permitting & Licensing – These aren’t always the most user-friendly, but the people working at these agencies will try to help as much as possible – and we can assist companies with this if needed.
  • SBDC – The Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Ashland University covers Crawford County and is our first recommendation for anyone thinking about starting a new business or wanting to grow it.
  • SCORE – A very underutilized (here) national mentorship program supported by the federal government. Its local branch is based at the Richland Chamber and covers Crawford County. A lot to offer in addition to mentorship!
Here is more information in detail:

Braintree Business Development Center: Braintree Business Development Center is an  entrepreneurship program that supports a variety of startup technology companies with a focus on the greater Mansfield and Ashland areas – including Crawford County. Since 1986, Braintree has delivered a number of critical resources to early-stage companies:

  • Helps entrepreneurs with business planning, access to resources, intellectual property, lean business model canvas, pitch preparation, and market validation.
  • Provides financing through Appleseed Microfinance and the Tech Sprout Fund.
  • Hosts networking events including Caffeinated Ideas where individuals can get support with their business ideas, and SunDown RunDown, a regional pitch competition.
Crawford County Entrepreneurship Programs: The Crawford County Entrepreneurship programs showcase a commitment to fostering innovation and growth in the region.
  • The Crawford Business Exchange (CBX) is a free service in Crawford County that connects investors and entrepreneurs with local business opportunities, including buying existing businesses, starting franchises, and new ventures. It tries to address the problem of businesses closing when owners retire and the difficulty in finding funding and management for new projects. It is hosted by the Crawford Partnership, a nonprofit economic, community, and workforce development agency serving Bucyrus, Galion, Crestline, New Washington, and all of Crawford County, Ohio.
  • Innovate Crawford, spearheaded by the Crawford Partnership, offers a platform for experts to conduct seminars and sessions relevant to entrepreneurs and small business owners. This initiative aims to empower individuals with knowledge and resources essential for success.
  • Additionally, the Loft at the Galion Depot stands as a testament to this dedication, undergoing a $2.2 million renovation to become a hub of entrepreneurial activity. The space will feature offices for lease, co-working areas, a resource office for counseling, and a conference room, providing a conducive environment for startups and small businesses to thrive. Supported by local leaders, JobsOhio, and various partners, this project symbolizes a significant step towards economic growth and community development, promising a brighter future for Galion and Crawford County as a whole.
  • Finally, there is some limited but no-cost entrepreneurship space at the Bucyrus Public Library offering local entrepreneurs and startups to innovate and grow their businesses. The Bucyrus Public Library’s Incubator provides a well-equipped office space within the library premises, complete with essential amenities such as a desk, power strip, green screen, monitors, chairs, camera, and microphone all ensuring a conducive environment for business activities. The space offers privacy with a door and blinds and is available for reservation up to a month in advance.
Permitting & Licenses
  • The First Stop Business Connection provides free state-level information needed to get started or continue on the entrepreneurial journey, including a Starting Your Business in Ohio Guide, as well as a Hiring Guide and a number of regulatory checklists for different business types. 
  • Food Safety Programs are offered by the Crawford County Health Department and Galion Health Department to provide licensing and inspection of food service operations, retail food establishments, food vending machines, mobile food services, and temporary food operations.
  • The Ohio Business Gateway is a nationally-recognized, collaborative initiative of state and local government agencies and an important part of Ohio’s digital government strategy. Gateway services offer Ohio’s businesses a time- and money-saving online filing and payment system that helps simplify business’ relationship with government agencies. Ohio businesses can use the Gateway to access various services and submit transactions and payments with many state agencies. The Gateway also partners with local governments to enable businesses to file and pay selected Ohio municipal income taxes.
  • Richland County Building Department: The Richland County Building Department enforces code requirements and regulates the construction of buildings and structures within the Department’s jurisdiction – including Crawford County. They review and approve all plans and issue all permits required by the applicable, current codes for the construction, alteration, movement, enlargement, replacement, repair, equipment, use and occupancy, and location to all commercial and residential buildings and structures. 

SBDC (Small Business Development Center): The Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) are vital resources for entrepreneurs and small business owners. These centers, typically affiliated with universities or state economic development agencies, provide a range of services such as business consulting, training workshops, and access to resources like market research and funding opportunities.

  • The SBDC Business Check-Up program is a free consulting service offered through the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Ashland University, which covers Crawford County and seven other counties in North Central Ohio. Through the program, an Ohio SBDC Certified Business Advisor will review the marketing, financial, operational, and other aspects of a business to diagnose an existing problem or identify a potential problem and report back to the business what they find and any recommendations they may have.
  • SBDC Small Business Counseling is a free consulting service for small businesses (under 500 employees) funded and overseen by the US Small Business Administration and the Ohio Department of Development. The SBDC (Small Business Development Center) works with client companies on a regular (every two weeks) basis to provide ongoing support. The regional SBDC supporting Crawford County businesses is located at Ashland University.
    • Services commonly provided include business plans (writing and reviewing), financing (getting “bank ready” and preparing to make a request), and marketing (market research; traditional, online, social media advertising and marketing).
    • They also provide assistance with accounting/bookkeeping, buying/selling a business, feasibility analysis, financial analysis, growth strategies, franchising, home-based businesses, human resources, innovation, management, product development, public relations, regulatory compliance, and strategic planning.

SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives): SCORE is a group of retired executives who volunteer to mentor and guide entrepreneurs and small business owners. They offer expertise in areas like strategic planning, marketing, finance, and operations, helping individuals start and grow their businesses through personalized advice, workshops, and online resources. SCORE’s support contributes significantly to fostering innovation and driving economic growth in communities.

    • The SCORE Business Learning Center provides free, online learning paths for deeper dives into critical business topics, such as online marketing, startup basics, and more. At the end of a learning path, users will feel they have a better understanding of their chosen topic and the resources available for continuous learning. They can also connect with a mentor who will assist in applying the learning to the business.

The SCORE Mentoring program provides free, confidential business advice from expert advisors committed to helping new and existing businesses succeed. Advisors are volunteer counselors that are experienced owners and managers of business and want to give back. Sessions last for approximately an hour, and there is no limit to the number of sessions available to each individual business. People can meet mentors face-to-face or connect with one of the online mentors. The SCORE Chapter covering Crawford County is the North Central Ohio SCORE based in Mansfield.

  • The SCORE Resource Library provides free business templates, e-guides, checklists, blogs, infographics, videos, tools and other helpful resources to help entrepreneurs, owners, and managers make better decisions on how to start or grow their business. The library is an initiative of the North Central Ohio SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), serving Crawford and five other counties.
  • SCORE Small Business Workshops are no- or low-cost online live and recorded business training sessions on a variety of topics including marketing, finance and accounting, management and others. Workshop topics have included business planning, brand trademarking, starting a business during a recession, e-commerce, starting a business, budgeting, taxes, woman-/minority-/veteran-owned business certification. The SCORE Chapter covering Crawford County is the North Central Ohio SCORE based in Mansfield.