The Small Business Financial Exchange
Not all of Tower East’s tenants are large firms, and the Vision
Fund also allowed a former Shaker Heights resident to expand
her small business to the building. Carolyn Hardin Levine
started the Cleveland operations of the Small Business Financial
Exchange in her home before moving into offices in Beachwood.
The company offers data exchange to any financial institution or
business that provides credit to small businesses. As Levine
added employees and watched the progress of the Van Aken
District, she wanted to return to Shaker Heights.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our
economy,” Levine says, “and part of our mission.” This
aligned with the unique and local retailers available
in the Van Aken District and led to a suite in
Tower East. The location and iconic nature of the
building were attractive, but it was the “good cost
in a great building” and the ability to expand
over time that made it an ideal choice.
The remaining challenge was the cost of
relocating and expanding – from building out
the space to furniture and file cabinets – that are
significant for a small business. The City’s loan
program helped to finance some of these costs.
“We were very judicious in our approach” says
Levine, “and knew the economics would allow for a
repayment within one year.” The business has grown
from six to 10 employees since relocating and is in
the process of expanding to the adjacent space. Levine
recently wrote to thank the City, saying “The program
played a role in making it possible for us to grow in a way that
helped our business succeed long-term.”
42 WINTER 2019 | WWW.SHAKER.LIFE