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Start Your Business

Interested in starting a business in Franklin County? Franklin County Economic Development and Planning and its partner organizations can offer you several programs - including a mix of federal, state and county tax incentives, loans, grants, and workforce development programs - that can provide you with critical resources to achieve your goals.

Franklin County has fostered strategic partnerships to provide critical start-up financing, technical assistance, and incubation programming necessary to help Franklin County residents start a small business and achieve success.

The Columbus College of Art and Design (CCAD), one of the nation’s premier schools of art and design, operates a business incubator, the MindMarket, that offers mentoring, technical support, physical space, and business-partnership opportunities to entrepreneurially minded students, alumni, and/or partners of CCAD. The MindMarket allows CCAD to infuse its student programs with business-related projects and programming, as well as to serve as a connection to commercial business enterprises in Ohio and beyond. Franklin County support of CCAD and the MindMarket has positively impacted the local economy by increasing the availability of quality and creative design services and other arts-related businesses.


ECDI is a nonprofit community-based organization whose mission is to provide lending, management, and technical assistance to low income individuals who wish to start their own businesses. Through its Micro-lending program, ECDI and the county work together to identify industries that would benefit from additional support and investment. In addition to its micro-lending program, ECDI administers two unique business development programs. The first, The Food Fort, provides loans, legal training, sales assistance, and marketing for start-up mobile food venders. In addition, the start-ups also have access to an onsite commercial kitchen, allowing them to cook safely and meet health regulations. The second, the Retail Incubation Supporting Entrepreneurs program (RISE), provides entrepreneurs an opportunity to start and grow a retail enterprise in the county. The program provides technical assistance and low interest loans to borrowers for the purchase machinery and equipment. In total, Franklin County provides $1,850,000 in Community Development Block Grant funds to ECDI to support these initiatives.


Kiva Microfunds (“Kiva”) is an international nonprofit organization that runs a crowdfunding microenterprise loan program through its website that allows primarily low income, women, and minority entrepreneurs to access startup capital and build businesses. Founded in 2005, Kiva has helped borrowers in 84 countries from around the world receive more than $858,000,000 in loans from approximately 1.5 million individual lenders.
In 2016, Franklin County EDP partnered with Kiva to support its creation of a custom platform specifically for borrowers and lenders in our region to make it easier for  residents of Franklin County to access and use the Kiva website. Kiva declared the City of Columbus a “Kiva City,” making Columbus only the 14th Kiva City in the United States. Franklin County’s partnership ensures that all citizens of the County will enjoy the benefits of Columbus being declared a Kiva City, regardless of whether or not they reside within the City of Columbus.

Eligible Kiva borrowers can receive a 0%, crowdfunded loan in amounts up to $10,000 to help startup or expand a small business or microenterprise. In addition, technical advice and small business development expertise is available from various Kiva affiliated organizations throughout the County, including Forge Columbus. To learn more, visit the Kiva Columbus website, or contact our region’s local “Kiva Trustee” Reese Neader at


Rev1 Ventures provides coaching and mentoring services to technology start-ups to help them identify markets, sell products, create jobs, and attract venture investment. Franklin County’s support allows Rev1 to leverage State of Ohio’s Entrepreneurial Signature Program (ESP) grant dollars on a 1:1 basis. Serving an average of 25 new start-ups a year, Rev1 has an impressive record of achievement; having invested $12.3 million in technology startups, Rev1 has helped companies create $260 million in revenue and 720 jobs.

John O'Grady President
Marilyn Brown
Kevin L. Boyce