Businessman Troy Parker: From Incarceration to National Inspiration

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[Businessman Troy Parker]
Senator Rob Portman: "Troy was denied a PPP loan to help the small business he created because he had a past criminal record. Troy has turned his life around, and hired others seeking a second chance: he is someone we should be holding up..."
Photo: Rich Walberg

Former prisoner Troy Parker, above in gray shirt, with employees of his company--other former prisoners.

Troy Parker, president and CEO of Cincinnati-based Innovative Labor and Cleaning Services, Inc., was born into an entrepreneurial family. James Parker, Troy’s father, owned a commercial cleaning company.

Troy grew up the youngest of eight children in the Cincinnati suburb of Finneytown. At age eight, Troy had to join his siblings and parents, working afternoons in the family business. He grew up going to school, playing sports after school then off to work most evenings.

The Parker children were raised as one of a handful of African-American families living in their community. Troy had to deal with racism early in life. He was enrolled at mostly Catholic schools, including Moeller High School. He graduated from Cincinnati’s Purcell Marion.

After a brief stint at a junior college, Troy caught the Parker entrepreneurial bug. At age 19, Troy and his new bride, Kristine, started their own commercial cleaning business, CL and Preforming Construction Cleaning.

In early-2000, the honeymoon was over. Troy’s life took a turn for the worse – and then, remarkably, for the better.

Troy was indicted and convicted of wire fraud in 2004, and served 30 months. After his release, and while trying to get back on his feet, Troy was indicted for bank fraud stemming from the same events from his first conviction. The charges were brought separate because the events happened in different districts. The second conviction resulted in 10-and-a-half total years of incarceration.

After release, Troy arrived at a halfway house. He was motivated to change what he had seen in prison--the revolving door that kept men returning back to prison due to not being accepted back into society.

Troy was determined to create a company that welcomed returning citizens into the workforce and into the community. Taking a huge risk of running a company while in the halfway house, Troy knew if he didn’t restart his company, it would never get done. With only $500 and using the public library as an office, Innovative Labor and Cleaning Services, Inc. was born in 2015. It was truly “innovative.” Troy managed the operation’s first six months from his halfway house without staff knowing and while hiring 100 percent of his employees from other halfway houses in the Cincinnati area.

He took a leap of faith, hiring a team of employees. Troy was creative and made deals with clients for early payment so that he could write paychecks for his staff. Looking back, Troy, himself, is unsure how he made it work – but it did.

By the end of the year, the business had grossed nearly half a million dollars. It’s been growing ever since, employing nearly 125 individuals who work in mostly Greater Cincinnati neighborhoods. Innovative Labor and Cleaning Services successfully employs people who are often seen as unemployable. Ninety percent of Troy’s team are returning citizens.

From incarceration to national inspiration. 

In 2020, small and family-owned businesses, like Troy’s, were hit hard by the global COVID-19 pandemic. As Troy had a conviction on his records and still on probation, he was ineligible to receive government stimulus funds from the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Again, Troy innovated and collaborated to fight for his business – and other small businesses across the nation. He worked with Senator Rob Portman, Representative Steve Chabot and other leaders to change the PPP guidelines to include business owners who are also returning citizens. Innovative Labor and Cleaning Services received its PPP funds.

On July 1, 2020, Senator Portman posted this message on social media:

“Called and congratulated Troy Parker today, an Ohio small business owner who has not only had his PPP small business loan approved, but was a leader in changing the rules to help many others. Troy was denied a PPP loan to help the small business he created because he had a past criminal record. Troy has turned his life around, and hired others seeking a second chance: he is someone we should be holding up as a good example and supporting with PPP. After Troy told me his story, I contacted the Treasury Department and SBA to get them to change the rules and they did. Thanks to Troy, many others who have turned their lives around can now also access the PPP program to help their small business.”

Troy continues to run his successful family-owned business and is working to create more opportunities for minority small business owners and returning citizens to be heard and have a seat at the table.

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