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ECDI to Open SBA-Supported Women's Business Center in Partnership with Shawnee State University

New Women’s Business Center of Central Appalachia Will Provide Training, Assistance and Loan Capital to Women-Owned Small Businesses

(Portsmouth, OH) – ECDI, in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Shawnee State University, has announced it will open the Women’s Business Center (WBC) of Central Appalachia in Portsmouth in 2021. The WBC of Central Appalachia will be ECDI’s fourth WBC in Ohio, and is part of the SBA’s historic launch of 20 new WBCs across America.

ECDI is currently seeking a great local candidate for the WBC of Portsmouth's Program Director. Learn more.

The WBC of Central Appalachia will be pivotal to the growth and success of women-owned small businesses in rural and underserved markets, especially as they continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The focus of this WBC – like its counterparts in Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland – will be to support and develop female entrepreneurs through education, training and mentorship services. Additional resources and access to facilities including printing, laptops, and wi-fi are available to current Shawnee State University students and to members for an accessible membership fee. As a financial lender, ECDI can also provide capital with loans up to $350,000, serving as a one-stop-resource for WBC members.

“WBCs are vital to supporting women-owned small businesses, and they go hand-in-hand with ECDI’s mission of investing in underserved entrepreneurs for social and economic change,” said Inna Kinney, Founder and CEO of ECDI. “The WBC of Central Appalachia at Shawnee State University will lend incredible support to promising entrepreneurs in a region where fewer professional opportunities exist for women.”

“Shawnee State University is highly focused on inclusive career services and innovation opportunities for our students and the greater Southeast Ohio, West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky communities. We are pleased to provide a setting in partnership with SBA and ECDI that will serve and empower female entrepreneurs that are part of our Shawnee State community as well as small business owners throughout the Appalachian region,” said David Kilroy, Program Director of Kricker Innovation Hub, Shawnee State University.

The WBC of Central Appalachia will be housed temporarily at the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts at Shawnee State University before making a permanent move to the University’s Kricker Innovation Hub in Downtown Portsmouth, following completion of a $3.5 million renovation funded by local support, the State of Ohio, and the Economic Development Administration. ECDI is currently recruiting a program director for the WBC of Central Appalachia.

“This new Women’s Business Center comes at a crucial time in our nation’s history, with many small businesses fighting to survive the economic hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” said SBA Central and Southern Ohio District Director Everett M. Woodel Jr. “The existing three WBCs in Ohio have been key partners in SBA’s goal to expand resources for women business owners and to our pandemic response. Furthermore, having a WBC in Appalachia will fundamentally transform the business landscape in rural Ohio and support SBA’s goal of leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs.”

The WBC of Central Appalachia will be in Ohio and will serve women business owners in Ohio and Eastern Kentucky. Staff will collaborate with the existing WBC in West Virginia to serve women in adjacent West Virginia counties as well. The center is slated to open in spring of 2021.

ECDI’s three additional SBA-supported WBCs include: the WBC of Northern Ohio in Cleveland, the WBC of Central Ohio in Columbus, and the WBC of Greater Cincinnati. To learn more about the WBCs in Ohio, visit To learn more about SBA’s programs and resources for women entrepreneurs, visit


Media Contact: Amee BellWanzo | 614-296-0128

For Immediate Release: March 28, 2021



ECDI is a nonprofit organization, dedicated to assuring underserved and underbanked entrepreneurs – regardless of where they came from, where they live, their gender or their race – have access to funding and a range of business incubation services they need to succeed. Based in Columbus, with offices in Cleveland, Cincinnati, Akron and Toledo, we are a one-stop resource center, serving small businesses in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. As a leading SBA microloan intermediary, a certified Community Development Corporation, and Treasury-designated Community Development Financial Institution, we are proud to have assisted more than 262,000 individuals, disbursed over $76.5 million through nearly 3,400 loans, and created and retained more than 10,400 job

s since 2004. Learn more:


The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. Learn more:


The Kricker Innovation Hub will be a flagship facility for Shawnee State University following its renovation. When complete, the 28,000 sq ft building will feature coworking space, event and meeting spaces, a digital makerspace, and business accelerator programs. The Hub will act as a bridge between campus and community, and an anchor for a new Downtown Portsmouth Arts, Culture, and Innovation District. Learn more:


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