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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
Release Date: 
Friday, April 2, 2021
Release Number: 

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.

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.

“As SBA celebrates the 10th anniversary of the Women’s Business Center of Kentucky, we are excited about the addition of this new WBC, which will focus on the hard-hit Appalachian region of the state,” said SBA Kentucky District Director Robert Coffey. “This comes as many small businesses are at a crossroad due to the global pandemic, which has been affecting women-owned businesses for over a year. The new WBC will offer additional resources to help create an equitable environment for women entrepreneurs and foster growth in the region.”

The WBC of Central Appalachia will be in Ohio and serve women business owners in the Eastern Kentucky Counties of Boyd, Greenup and Lewis. 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