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 geeks out on public/incentive financing programs. 


To finish out ED Week, we’re going to geek out on public/incentive financing programs. The first economic development loan programs in the US can be traced back to the early 20th century. One of the pioneering programs was the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC), established in 1932 during the Great Depression. The RFC was a government agency that provided loans to banks, industries, and other entities to stimulate economic recovery and job creation. Loan and other financing programs continue to be a key tool in the economic development toolbox, particularly when interest rates rise and/or traditional capital is not available to a business (for a variety of reasons).

This current list is comprehensive but not all-inclusive, but will give you an idea of most of the tools at our disposal to support existing and new businesses. As with all of our program services, we can (1) recommend programs to a company for consideration based on their project; (2) make a connection between a company and a program contact; (3) assist the company with application and approval; and/or (4) directly provide the program or service.

Here is a summary of the list (below):

  • Smaller Financing Programs: Crawford Partnership; Erie Basin RLF; Ex-Im Bank; Minority Business; SBA 504 and 7(a); Ohio Treasurer.
  • Larger Financing Programs: EB-5 Investor; Energy Loan Fund; Industrial Bonds; OAQDA; OWDA; PACE; Port Authority; State Development Loans; USDA.
  • Research, Tech & Venture Programs: Angel Investors; Early-Stage & Venture; JobsOhio.

Please note: Many, if not most, of these programs require or desire a private-sector bank partner to participate. We work with the following member banks on business deals:

  • First Federal Community Bank (Gold member)
  • First Federal Bank of Ohio (Silver member)
  • Park National Bank (Bronze member)
  • Peoples Savings & Loan (Supporter)
  1. Smaller Financing Programs

1.1 Crawford Partnership: The Crawford Partnership currently offers the Recover Crawford disaster loan program. The Recover Crawford Emergency Loan Fund steps in as a lifeline for for-profit small businesses affected by natural disasters. This program offers emergency loans of up to $10,000 at 0% interest, with short-term repayment options ranging from 1 to 3 years and deferred payments available.

1.2 Erie Basin Revolving Loan Fund: The Erie Basin Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) offers three types of loans to creditworthy applicants in areas with less than 50,000 population.

  • The first type is Natural Resource Based and/or Small Business/Recycling loans for individuals, partnerships, or corporations. These loans require individual liability, have a fixed rate, and range from 5 to 7 years in duration, providing $15,000 per job created or retained.
  • The second type is Downtown Revitalization loans available in communities with less than 25,000 population. These loans assist small downtown businesses in improving buildings for occupancy, secured by equipment only, with optional real estate (R.E.) liens. They also have individual liability, a fixed rate, and can extend up to 7 years, offering up to $15,000 in funding.
  • The third type is Renewable Energy Loans for farms and rural businesses to enhance energy efficiency through renewable sources like geothermal, solar, and wind. These loans, again with individual liability and fixed rates, last from 7 to 10 years and can provide up to $25,000, secured by equipment unless a real estate lien is necessary.

1.3 Export-Import Bank Programs: The Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) offers several programs and initiatives to support American businesses in exporting their goods and services globally.

  • One key program is the Export Credit Insurance, which protects exporters against non-payment risks from foreign buyers, facilitating trade and mitigating financial risks.
  • Additionally, the Working Capital Guarantee Program provides financing solutions to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to support their export-related working capital needs, enabling them to fulfill international orders and expand their global market reach.
  • Furthermore, Ex-Im Bank offers direct loans and loan guarantees to foreign buyers of U.S. goods and services, promoting exports and creating job opportunities domestically.

1.4 Minority Business Development Programs: The Minority Business Development office at the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) offers several programs to support the growth and success of minority-owned businesses.

  • Through the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Certification Program, businesses gain access to procurement opportunities with government agencies and private sector firms committed to diversity.
  • The Minority Business Bonding Program assists eligible firms in obtaining surety bonding for public contracts, enhancing their competitiveness.
  • Additionally, the Minority Business Direct Loan Program and Minority Business Enterprise Direct Loan Program provide direct financing for working capital, equipment, and expansion needs.
  • The Minority Business Development Revolving Loan Program further extends financial support with flexible terms to promote growth, job creation, and sustainability among certified minority-owned businesses in Ohio.

1.5 Small Business Administration (SBA) Programs: The Small Business Administration (SBA) offers two primary financing programs, the 504 Loan Program and the 7(a) Loan Program, to assist small businesses in accessing capital.

  • The 504 program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets like real estate and equipment, helping businesses acquire or improve their facilities. It typically involves a partnership between a Certified Development Company (CDC), a lender, and the business owner.
  • On the other hand, the 7(a) program is more flexible and versatile, offering loans for various business purposes such as working capital, equipment purchases, and real estate acquisition. These loans are partially guaranteed by the SBA, encouraging lenders to provide financing to small businesses that may not qualify for traditional loans.

1.6 Treasurer of State Programs: The Ohio Treasurer of State offers a range of loan programs and financial assistance initiatives to support various sectors of the state’s economy.

  • The Ag-LINK Program provides reduced-interest rate loans to Ohio farmers for agricultural projects and operating expenses, promoting economic stability in rural communities.
  • Similarly, the Economic Development Loan Program partners with local governments and agencies to offer low-interest loans to businesses for expansion and job creation efforts.
  • The GrowNOW Program extends reduced-interest rate loans to small businesses for equipment purchases and job creation, fostering local economic development.
  • Additionally, the RenewOhio: Sustainable Agriculture Loan Fund supports farmers and agribusinesses with financing for sustainable agriculture practices and environmental conservation projects, promoting innovation and sustainability in the agricultural sector. These programs collectively contribute to the Treasurer of State’s mission of supporting economic growth, agriculture, and financial stability across Ohio.
  1. Larger Financing Programs

2.1 EB-5 Investor Funding: EB-5 investor funding is a program administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that allows foreign investors to obtain permanent residency (Green Card) in the United States by investing in job-creating projects. Under the EB-5 program, investors must invest a minimum amount of capital in a qualifying commercial enterprise, typically $1.8 million or $900,000 in targeted employment areas (TEAs), which are areas with high unemployment rates or rural areas. The investment must create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years of the investor’s admission to the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident. EB-5 investor funding is a popular option for real estate development projects, infrastructure projects, and other job-generating initiatives seeking capital from overseas investors looking to immigrate to the United States.

2.2 Energy Loan Fund: The Energy Loan Fund, administered by Development, offers low-interest financing to small businesses, manufacturers, nonprofits, local governments, and educational institutions for implementing energy efficiency improvements. Eligible projects include insulation, LED lighting, HVAC upgrades, energy management systems, and more, with a requirement to achieve at least a 15% reduction in energy usage. Technical assistance is provided to facilitate energy audits and project planning. Loan amounts range from $250,000 to $2.5 million, with applicants required to submit a Pre-Application outlining project details and expected savings before proceeding to a Loan Application.

2.3 Industrial Bonds

  • Industrial Revenue Bonds (IRBs) in Ohio are a financing tool used to stimulate economic development by providing low-cost capital for eligible industrial projects. These bonds are typically issued by a governmental entity on behalf of a private company or non-profit organization to finance the acquisition, construction, or renovation of facilities related to manufacturing, processing, distribution, or research and development. The interest earned by investors on IRBs is often exempt from federal income tax, making them an attractive option for investors and lowering borrowing costs for the project sponsor. In Ohio, IRBs are commonly utilized to support job creation, infrastructure improvements, and the expansion of industrial businesses, contributing to overall economic growth and competitiveness in the state.
  • The Ohio Enterprise Bond Fund (OEBF) is a valuable financing tool administered by the Ohio Development Services Agency to support economic development projects in the state. Through OEBF, eligible businesses and organizations can access low-cost capital for various initiatives, including infrastructure improvements, expansion projects, and job creation efforts. The fund offers competitive interest rates and flexible terms, making it an attractive option for companies seeking long-term financing solutions to fuel growth and development in Ohio communities.

2.4 Ohio Air Quality Development Authority: The Ohio Air Quality Development Authority (OAQDA) offers several programs and initiatives to support businesses and industries in improving air quality, reducing emissions, and promoting environmental sustainability.

  • One notable program is the Clean Air Resource Center (CARC), which provides technical assistance, education, and outreach to businesses seeking to implement clean air strategies and technologies.
  • Additionally, OAQDA administers the Clean Air Financing Program (CAFP), offering low-interest loans and grants to businesses for projects that enhance air quality, such as pollution control equipment upgrades, emission reduction initiatives, and energy efficiency improvements.
  • Furthermore, OAQDA collaborates with local governments and environmental agencies to provide funding and incentives for clean energy projects, alternative fuel infrastructure development, and renewable energy initiatives.

2.5 Ohio Water Development Authority: The Ohio Water Development Authority (OWDA) offers various programs and financial assistance to businesses aimed at promoting water infrastructure development, environmental sustainability, and economic growth.

  • One such program is the Water Infrastructure Loan Guarantee Program, which provides loan guarantees to businesses investing in water-related infrastructure projects such as wastewater treatment facilities, water recycling systems, and stormwater management initiatives. These guarantees enhance access to financing and lower borrowing costs, encouraging businesses to undertake essential water infrastructure improvements.
  • Additionally, OWDA collaborates with local economic development agencies and utilities to provide funding and incentives for businesses implementing water conservation measures, green technologies, and sustainable practices. This includes grants, rebates, and technical assistance programs to support businesses in reducing water usage, improving water quality, and minimizing environmental impact.
  • Furthermore, OWDA partners with federal agencies and private lenders to facilitate financing options for businesses engaged in water-related industries such as manufacturing, agriculture, and water technology. These initiatives aim to stimulate economic activity, create job opportunities, and promote innovation in water management and conservation practices among businesses across Ohio.

2.6 PACE Financing: PACE financing in Ohio enables property owners to access low-cost, long-term financing for energy efficiency, renewable energy, and water conservation projects. Repayment is through a special property tax assessment, making it easier for owners to fund sustainability upgrades without upfront capital. Administered locally, PACE programs promote environmental sustainability and reduce energy costs for businesses and property owners in Ohio.

2.7 Port Authority Financing: Several port authorities can provide access to bond financing, including the Galion Port Authority, Blanchard Valley Port Authority, Wood County Port Authority, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority. Port authority financing in Ohio offers significant advantages for economic development. One key benefit is the access to capital through bond issuance, allowing for the funding of infrastructure projects that might not be feasible with traditional financing. These projects often enjoy tax-exempt status, reducing borrowing costs and making investments more attractive. Additionally, port authorities can customize financing structures to suit project needs, providing flexibility in terms of repayment terms, interest rates, and collateral requirements.

2.8 State Development Loans: State Development loans, including the Regional 166 and Direct 166 programs, are instrumental in supporting economic growth and job creation initiatives in various regions.

  • The Regional 166 loan program provides financing to businesses for projects that contribute to regional economic development and job retention or creation. Administered by state development agencies or economic development organizations, these loans typically have flexible terms, including competitive interest rates and repayment schedules tailored to the specific needs of the project.
  • On the other hand, the Direct 166 loan program offers direct financial assistance to businesses for expansion, modernization, or job creation projects, helping them access capital for critical investments. The 166 Direct Loan gives eligible businesses loans for land and building acquisition, construction, expansion or renovation, and equipment purchases. The program provides low-interest loans up to 40 percent of the cost not to exceed $1.5 million.
  • Additionally, the State administers the Collateral Enhancement Program (CEP), which provides credit enhancement to small and medium-sized businesses that lack sufficient collateral to secure traditional financing, helping them access loans for expansion, working capital, and other needs.

2.9 USDA Rural Development: The USDA Rural Development loan and guarantee programs are vital resources for promoting economic stability and growth in rural areas across the United States. These programs offer financing options and guarantees to support various initiatives such as housing development, community facilities, water and wastewater infrastructure, and business development in rural communities.

  • The USDA’s Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program enables lenders to provide affordable home loans to low- and moderate-income households in eligible rural areas, expanding homeownership opportunities.
  • Additionally, the Business and Industry (B&I) Loan Guarantee Program facilitates access to capital for small businesses in rural areas, encouraging entrepreneurship and job creation.
  1. Research, Tech & Venture Funding

3.1 Angel Funding: Angel funding plays a crucial role in fueling innovation and supporting early-stage companies, particularly in regions like Ohio. Investor groups such as Ohio Tech Angels and North Coast Angel Fund are instrumental in providing not just capital but also mentorship, strategic guidance, and networking opportunities to startups and entrepreneurs. These angel funds, along with other notable investor groups in the state, contribute significantly to Ohio’s dynamic startup ecosystem by fostering entrepreneurship, driving economic growth, and catalyzing innovation across various industries.

  • Ohio Tech Angels is a prominent angel investor network in the state, providing funding and support to high-growth potential startups across various industries.
  • North Coast Angel Fund, based in Northeast Ohio, focuses on early-stage investments in innovative companies with strong growth prospects.

3.2 Early Stage & Venture Funding: Early-stage and venture capital are vital components of Ohio’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, fueling innovation, job creation, and economic growth.

  • Initiatives like the CORE Network Fund, supported by the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, provide essential funding and resources to startups and early-stage companies in key sectors like technology, healthcare, and manufacturing across the Toledo region and Northwest Ohio.
  • Similarly, JumpStart Ventures, based in Cleveland, plays a crucial role in supporting early-stage technology startups and entrepreneurs with capital, mentorship, and strategic guidance to accelerate their growth and success.
  • Additionally, Drive Capital, headquartered in Columbus and focusing on the Midwest, including Ohio, invests in high-potential technology companies, contributing to the region’s reputation as a hub for innovation and venture capital activity. These entities, along with other venture capital firms, form a robust ecosystem that fosters entrepreneurship, drives innovation, and propels economic development in Ohio.

3.3 JobsOhio Programs

JobsOhio’s Innovation Ohio Loan Fund and Research and Development Loan Fund are instrumental in supporting innovation-driven businesses and fostering research and development initiatives across Ohio’s diverse industries.

  • The Innovation Ohio Loan Fund offers loans ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million to support Ohio companies in acquiring, constructing, and covering related capital costs for technology, facilities, and equipment purchases. This fund aims to foster the development of next-generation products and services in key industry sectors within the state.
  • Similarly, the Research and Development Investment Loan Fund provides financing of $500,000 to $5 million for projects primarily focused on research and development activities. These loans come with fixed rates (at or below market rates) and other terms comparable to commercial bank financing. Additionally, companies benefit from a dollar-for-dollar, nonrefundable Ohio commercial activity tax credit for principal and interest payments, up to $150,000 during the loan term.