Expertise Cosmetology Institute (ECI) is the first African American owned and operated school of cosmetology in Las Vegas, Nevada. Its mission is to recruit, teach, and train students to master the arts and sciences in the cosmetology field. Located in a severely distressed area, ECI offers eligible, low-income students the opportunity to apply for Pell
Grants and other federal aid through a program partnership with the U.S. Department of Education. Program graduates also receive job placement assistance from ECI to help them achieve long-term economic independence.
ECI first approached Clearinghouse CDFI in 2014 seeking financing for a salon in Las Vegas that would hire institute graduates and promote continued education in the cosmetology field. Clearinghouse CDFI previously provided a $250,000 loan for ECI to establish its business. Development of that original salon, which continues to operate today as Expertise Beauty and Spa, created 5 construction jobs and 30 full-time jobs.
In 2018, ECI again approached Clearinghouse CDFI for the purpose of financing a new facility to add to their previous success. While ECI had originally requested a $4 million loan from Clearinghouse CDFI, it could not meet underwriting requirements.
Clearinghouse CDFI decided to provide a small New Markets Tax Credit allocation that would expand the impact of the project.
Development of the new school and daycare facility created 40 construction jobs and 22 full-time jobs, 50 percent of which were to low-income individuals and accessible to local residents. Located within the North Las Vegas redevelopment focus area—where area median income is only 46.92 percent, the poverty rate is at 44 percent, and the
unemployment rate runs 1.37 times the national average—the expanded Expertise Cosmetology Institute now serves over an additional 160 students annually.