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From Prison to Policy Reform: Innovative Labor CEO Paves Way for Returning Citizen Entrepreneurs

After serving a more than seven-year prison sentence for bank fraud, Troy Parker would be free in a matter of days. With a red bookbag containing extra clothes and doubling as a briefcase in hand, $500, and a desire to defy the status quo, Troy set off to make his dream of successful entrepreneurship come to fruition. What started as a daily grind of passing out business cards and utilizing the public library as an office, grew into Innovative Labor and Cleaning Services—a full-service staffing company offering labor services and construction cleaning to various industries throughout the Greater Cincinnati region.

At the start of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic began dealing blow after blow to American citizens and the U.S. economy, leaving thousands of small businesses shuttered. Although Troy’s company qualified to remain open as an essential operation, work was slow due to his clients’ inability to stay open, and the company was in dire need of capital. 

For many small business owners, their only hope to make it through the pandemic came from the CARES Act, which enacted programs intended to provide economic relief to small businesses in need. Troy applied for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan but was initially declined due to his parole status. Instead of giving up on acquiring an EIDL, Troy petitioned his local Small Business Administration officials and lawmakers in Washington on behalf of himself and the many returning citizens who chose entrepreneurship after prison. 

Troy’s campaign to permit business owners in circumstances like his to apply for economic relief through the SBA resulted in a change in the application process—the language that kept returning citizens from applying for relief was stricken, enabling him to successfully apply for and obtain an EIDL and a Paycheck Protection Program loan. With this influx of capital, Troy retained 75 employees who he said are integral to the success of his business. 

Today, Troy maintains contracts for some of the Tri-State’s largest and most complex construction projects and advocates for returning citizens alongside SBA resource and local partners.

Company Name: Innovative Labor and Cleaning Services

Location: Cincinnati