Innovating a clean start: First Financial cuts red tape
Company dedicated to employing parolees finds affordable debt relief
Innovative Labor and Cleaning Services Inc. (ILCS) is a family-owned company which provides temporary staffing, construction cleaning and janitorial services in the Tri-State area with a unique approach: It provides a second chance to formerly incarcerated individuals to assist them with transitioning back into society. This model empowers people who are struggling to build personal development skills while also helping fill the area’s labor shortages.
Having worked on some of the Tri-State’s most complex construction sites, ILCS is one of the largest construction cleaning services in the Greater Cincinnati region. Yet when its founder and CEO, Troy Parker, sought financing to reduce high-interest debt stemming from his start-up costs, he faced high hurdles.
“In the past, we had difficulty securing a loan because I was formerly incarcerated,” said Troy, who was released from federal prison in 2015. “But First Financial didn’t see that as an obstacle. They saw my experience and business model as an opportunity – for me, for other returning citizens seeking new lives, and for the community.”
Troy’s path to First Financial began in 2017, when he met members of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s Minority Business Accelerator. The Minority Accelerator, along with Eric Kearney of the African American Chamber of Commerce, and W. Bernard Kyles & Co., advised Troy on how to reduce debt and improve cash flow, to prepare ILCS to meet with a bank that was ready to help. Members of the Accelerator then connected Troy to Angelica, an SBA specialist with First Financial Bank, which has maintained a long relationship with the Minority Accelerator.
After a consultation, Angelica and the First Financial SBA team prepared a conventional loan refinance package to eliminate ILCS’s high-interest debt. Additionally, Angelica introduced Troy to the Collateral Enhancement Program offered by the Ohio Department of Development. The program provides collateral deposits to lending institutions to back loans the institutions issue to small businesses that lack sufficient collateral for traditional loans. Through the program, ILCS secured a line of credit and the wherewithal to qualify for a low-interest loan.
These combined financial products enabled Troy to refinance his high-interest loans at a lower rate, launching ILCS above and over the growth-prohibiting debt. In fact, the package is literally elevating the company: Troy is now looking to purchasing a new building for ILCS.
“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come,” Troy said. “It goes to show you that we all have the ability to provide someone else with a second chance, and that second chance lifts the whole community.”