With many economic trends looking up, business owners and entrepreneurs are showing renewed interest in startup and expansion opportunities.
EDC affiliate Midwest Small Business Finance is a good example. A nationally recognized administrator of four loan programs, MSBF is seeing a significant uptick in loan applications and inquiries for a broad range of businesses.
“The recovery is opening a window for not only those who want to try again, but for first-time restaurant owners and others who see the opportunity to fill a void,” Executive Director David Slater said. “For the last 14 months, people have been saving a lot of money and will be ready to spend it on dining out and trips in the very near future.”
Loan Officer Frances Sheffield agreed. “Even though we’ve been through COVID, we have a lot of loans going on. I know that hotels, event centers and other businesses suffered, but right now we have loans for fast food, day care and other businesses under way. It’s just amazing.”
MSBF administers four separate loan funds. The most active is the federal Small Business Administration 504 Loan program. All of these programs offer something small businesses need: long-term, low-interest capital.
Even though the lower rates can save thousands of dollars over the course of a loan, some businesses hesitate to pursue them because of the fear of paperwork and federal “red tape.”
“It can be a significant undertaking for someone starting a business, but I try to make it as easy as possible,” Sheffield explained. “We’ve gotten pretty good at reducing some of the confusion and paperwork.”
Unique PrioritiesA major factor in all of this is that MSBF was founded in 1982 as a nonprofit to help businesses at no cost in order to support and expand job growth in the region. MSBF is the region’s only recipient of the National Certified Business Development Company of the Year award from the SBA. During its nearly 40 years, MSBF has provided millions of dollars in loans for a huge range of businesses, from a Platte County veterinary clinic to a restaurant in Liberty and a salon in Richmond. Before the pandemic, MSBF was providing up to nearly $8 million each year to help grow local businesses and create hundreds of jobs.