Sam Adams loan fund is brewing-up small business

Kitty McConnell

Inna Kinney has passion for funding small enterprises. Since founding the nonprofit Economic and Community Development Institute in Columbus in 2004, Kinney's statewide SBA lender and business incubator has distributed $18 million in loans to Ohio businesses through offices in Columbus, Cleveland, Toledo and Akron (opening by winter). The majority of ECDI's loans have been made to Columbus-based enterprises.

ECDI manages 43 loan funds, making it the fourth-largest SBA micro-lender in the nation. One fund in particular-the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream fund-is targeted towards startup brewers and small food-related businesses.

"Many clients that ECDI currently serves have been food-based entrepreneurs. About 23 percent of our clients are in food-based businesses," says Kinney. ECDI has issued a total of $2.7 million in loans to Columbus-based food entrepreneurs.

"Banks are very conservative, and food businesses are historically not the ones they want to invest capital in," says Kinney. "I think that's why the concentration of our portfolio is so large within the food based industry." In addition to the Sam Adams loan fund and training program, ECDI Columbus supports food and beverage businesses through its Food Fort food-truck incubator and commercial text kitchen.

Three local recipients of the Sam Adams Brewing grant-Tato Heads food truck, JC's Sweet Ice Tea and Sweet Simplicities tea room-have found a strong following among Columbus consumers. Kinney hopes the program will help other food-based businesses find success following its expansion to ECDI in Cincinnati in August.

Visit ECDI's newly revamped website at