By Stephanie Mercado

State and local governments continue to respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic by launching new programs aimed at supporting business growth in addition to specific funds targeted at providing emergency relief funding. The following is a general review of recent announcements:


JobsOhio, the state’s privatized economic development organization, has recently announced the following new programs:

  • JobsOhio Innovation Fund: While the Innovation Fund was part of a new strategy previously approved by the JobsOhio Board of Directors, JobsOhio officially launched the program last week with some modifications to account for the current pandemic.
    • Who Can Apply? The Innovation Fund is initially being limited to Ohio venture-backed companies that have already raised Series A financing or later financing round prior to COVID-19, and expect that financing to be delayed, resulting in a material impact on growth or other critical milestones. Companies should have matching investment capital ready for commitment to the program of at least 1:1 within 30 days of submitting an application. The Innovation Fund is focused on companies in the life sciences, healthcare or IT sectors.
    • What Funds are Available? JobsOhio has allocated $50M to this new program to be invested in amounts ranging from $250K to $2.5M in the form of debt that will convert to equity upon the next equity fund raise. Upon conversion, JobsOhio expects a 4:1 ratio of new funds raised.
    • How to Apply? Given the match requirements, JobsOhio is seeking recommendations from 32 venture capital partners. These recommendations will be further reviewed by JobsOhio and its network partners prior to making funding awards.
  • JobsOhio Workforce Retention Loan Program: By invitation only to a limited number of its portfolio companies (those that have existing contractual agreements with JobsOhio), JobsOhio has offered a $600,000 forgivable loan to help those selected companies maintain operations and payroll.
  • Additional Programs: JobsOhio has also provided deferrals of loan payments, waiver of compliance requirements for existing companies under contract with JobsOhio, and has even launched a new $2M loan fund focused on small businesses in Southeast Ohio.

Ohio Development Services Agency

The Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) has launched an Office of Small Business Relief that provides assistance to all available state resources:

City of Cleveland

In addition to providing loan payment deferment to existing business, the City of Cleveland announced a $10,000 emergency loan relief program for small businesses located within the City. Loan repayment does not commence until Jan. 2021. Applications can be found here.

If you have an existing incentive agreement with a municipality, JobsOhio or the Ohio Development Services Agency, or if you have additional questions about how to obtain financial support for your business needs, contact Stephanie Mercado at or 216.736.7272.