One of Ohio’s longest-running and most impactful organizations is celebrating a major anniversary this summer. Cincinnati’s Alloy Development Co. has been operating for 40 years and commemorated the milestone with a large open house party in June. But the organization, which was once known as the Hamilton County Development Company, isn’t just toasting its longevity, it’s celebrating a concrete and impressive track record of impact. Leaders estimate that the organization has surpassed more than $2 billion in project work in its history, and just last year, Alloy contributed $52 million in economic development within Hamilton County.
“That’s significant because it’s wonderful to go raise capital, but it’s always important when customers are paying for the thing that companies in our programs are trying to grow,” President and CEO Patrick Longo said. “To me, that’s outstanding, and it’s a key for us. Another key data point is that we’ve seen our loan portfolio grow to over $170 million, and that’s almost 450 companies throughout Ohio leveraging this program to grow their business. That’s pretty cool.”
Alloy is a combination of programs that offer access to capital through the U.S. Small Business Administration, provide loans to businesses that are trying to purchase real estate, as well as a full-service incubator focused on innovation. They also serve as the economic development office for Hamilton County, helping communities foster small businesses and entrepreneurs. Longo has been with the organization for 27 years in lending, business coaching, mentorship, and even running the incubator. He said Alloy’s name — inspired by the process of combining materials to create something stronger — has never been more apt.
“When you combine all of these things, they interplay,” he said. “We deal with entrepreneurs in our incubator, but we also deal with entrepreneurs in our economic development program. All three of our areas deal with businesses, but we also deal with communities like the Village of Evendale or Harrison Township to make sure they have an economic development plan and can implement it. It’s been fun to see us grow and expand, especially in our diversity. We now have more women and people of color in our program, and it’s very satisfying. Today, we look a lot more like the community that we live in than we did 25 years ago.”
But after 40 years in service, Alloy doesn’t plan to slow down any time soon. The organization is in the midst of a $1.6 million refurbishment of its growth lab that will create larger lab spaces meant to attract scientific research clients, and they’re working harder than ever on outreach meant to bring together the variety of resources available to up-and-coming businesses in Cincinnati. And with organizations down the street like Cincinnati’s Small Business Development Center, TechSolve, SCORE, Cintrifuse, CincyTech and much more, Longo dreams of boosting all involved through collaboration.
“There are probably almost 60 assets or programs in Hamilton County that can help a small business,” he said. “We’re resource-rich, but we need some help with coordination and improving collaboration and team play in that space, particularly with businesses who have 10 or fewer employees that may not know what resources are out there. So it’s about how we can play that role — not in competition with those other providers, but in a complementary way. We want to get people connected with those resources. We want to be one of the top — if not the top — small business communities in the United States.”
All those resources point to a thriving Cincinnati startup and business scene, and that excites Longo. A veteran of business in Southwest Ohio, Longo has watched the area grow and evolve over time. Now more than ever, he says, there’s a buzz about Cincinnati’s economic possibilities.
“It has exploded, and it’s been fun to watch,” he said. “I and Alloy have been advocates for folks who want to help us build this ecosystem, which has been around for a long time and just keeps getting better. The addition of organizations like Cintrifuse and Mortar and the Cincinnati Minority Business Collaborative create an environment where these assets work with each other and partner with each other and create a continuum of assistance from pre-start to a million dollars in revenue. I think that’s really cool.”
But Longo said those improvements and that growth haven’t happened entirely on their own. He credits a variety of programs from the Ohio Third Frontier — which partially funds organizations like Alloy, Cintrifuse and CincyTech — with providing the financial boost and overarching vision needed to create the rising tide that is currently lifting all boats in Ohio.
“I give the Ohio Third Frontier a ton of credit — I think it’s helped create not only a culture and an environment, but a results-driven ecosystem across the entire state,” he said. “For instance, you have this entrepreneurial culture where our universities are now much more entrepreneurial and thinking about how they can do research that they can commercialize. If the Third Frontier isn’t here, that’s not happening. You have all these organizations playing in the same sandbox, and it’s nice to have a common thread of funding and the vision we’re trying to pursue. We all want to help develop, create, grow, and expand innovative entrepreneurs, and it doesn’t thrive without the Third Frontier.”