Columbus Hosts Small Businesses

Small Business Administration, Community Re-investment Area Program, Seed Capital Loan Program, Minority Direct Loan Program….the list of programs and agencies formed to help small business is lengthy. Melinda Carter heads the Equal Business Opportunity Commission at Columbus City Hall. The office helps women and minority-owned small businesses in the city. She says most small businesses have struggled to survive since nine-eleven.

Carter identifies two trends in small business development in Central Ohio. More competition for work sub-contracted by local and state governments and more entrepreneurship among individuals who lose jobs at big companies.

A Business Resource Guide published by The Daily Reporter counts more than 35-hundred business starts in 2002 in Franklin County. And competition is fierce among Columbus and its suburbs to attract and retain those small business and help them stay in business. Columbus Development Director Mark Barbash recently showed up at a southside hardware store to help promote a jobs plan for that portion of the city.

Barbash says the southside plan takes some cues from a similar development for the Northland Area. In both cases local government is working to attract and retain jobs after the loss of major employers. Scott Hack manages the headware store where Barbash and other city leaders touted their jobs plan. Hack says in older neighborhoods perception sometimes hinders new businesses from locating or re-locating to an area.

Hack says his boss at Schreiner Hardware on South Parsons has a slightly different product mix than a store in a new suburb. For instance, older homes need more plumbing and other repair items. Hack says any business, large or small. will either adapt to its customers or suffer red ink. For cities and suburbs the survival of small businesses is critical. City Council-member Mary Jo Hudson says more businesses mean more jobs which help fund health and safety services and recreation for city residents.

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