ANDERSON — When Dan McKenzie, owner of Broadway Tire and Green Tire Reclamation, needed to have the blades sharpened on his giant shredder, he didn’t have the money to pay for it.
He went in search of a small business loan from a traditional bank, but was denied because of a lack of capital.
Then he heard about a new program from the United Way of Madison County and the Flagship Enterprise Center. Together, the entities stepped forward and met his need.
“They jumped right on it and helped us out,” McKenzie said. “They were so wonderful. Not only did they loan us the money, but they were smart about it and arranged it so that we had as little down time with the machine taken apart as possible.”
Owners of mom-and-pop shops sometimes find themselves in need of a small loan to keep their doors open or to expand; sometimes they don’t know where to turn. Securing a loan for less than $50,000 from a traditional bank can be difficult, simply because overhead costs and increasing regulations can make such loans unprofitable.
The Microloan Program provides small loans to lower-income individuals for projects that generate income and create jobs locally.
“We started the program in 2010, but the funding from the United Way has allowed us to make that many more microloans,” said Adam Hoeksema, Microloan Program manager.
“Our numbers show that 35 jobs have been created and 90 jobs have been retained. Some people in economic development are focused on attracting bigger clients that can quickly create 200 jobs, but we are filling this piece. We are concentrating on 100 different companies that will create some jobs and diversify our market.”
Microloans average $11,000, but can be as high as $50,000. Since the beginning of the program, 65 loans have been made for a total of $725,000.
The Small Business Administration lends the Flagship Enterprise Center money at a low rate. The Flagship, in turn, lends the funds to individuals. Even if the individuals default, the Flagship must repay the funds.
“One of the things that sets us apart from a traditional lender is the technical assistance we provide,” Hoeksema said.
“The SBA recognizes the businesses we lend to are risky, so to help improve the rate of success, they provide funds for technical assistance. We help with bookkeeping, setting up a website and marketing. It’s more than $11,000; it’s strategic support. We want to see them succeed.”
McKenzie was grateful for the support.
“The Flagship helped us write our business plan and get things set up on Quickbooks,” he said. “They even brought my wife out there and showed her how to work Quickbooks. They were a big help.”
A variety of businesses have benefited from this service, including a tree service company, a marketing company, an IT service provider, software developers, a trucking company, a bike shop and a lawn-care company, to name a few.
“We are helping to grow a lot of small businesses throughout the community,” Hoeksema said.
Latest in a series This is the latest in a series of weekly articles, being published Mondays, about the impact of United Way programs in Madison County. How to give To contribute to the United Way's campaign: u Visit www.unitedwaymadisonco.org u Call 643-7493