RESIDENTS ENCOURAGED TO SUPPORT EXPANSION OF LOCAL BUSINESSES
A Kiva loan of $25 can advance a community strategy and help create a job
Five Southwest Virginia businesses are piloting a strategy to fund job-creating business expansions. Kiva, a nonprofit community-backed loan system, aggregates individual lenders from across the region and around the world to support loans of up to $10,000. The businesses promoted the campaign on May 17 at the 2018 Southwest Virginia Economic Forum.
“It’s the right size loan to help us prepare for what we expect is going to be our biggest season yet,” said Eva Beaule of Adventure Mendota from the stage of UVa-Wise’s David J. Prior Convocation Center. The Washington County businesswoman is planning to use a Kiva loan to purchase 25 additional kayaks. “Already this year we have group reservations for more people than we have equipment.” With two weeks left in the funding period, Eva has received pledges from 119 lenders totaling more than half of her $8,000 loan.
To be nominated to participate in a Kiva loan strategy through local Kiva trustee Opportunity SWVA, the business owner must be working with a local business development resource such as the Small Business Development Center or an economic development authority, or have participated in a training program such as a business plan competition. Additionally, the business must be good for the community, creating jobs or helping to advance a community or regional economic strategy.
Neil Walker at Norton-based Stone Mountain Adventures is also planning to use a Kiva loan to expand into outdoor recreation. With his wife Beth, the owner of All Indoor Farm Store will purchase equipment to help visitors access the surrounding lakes and trails. “With the changing economy, a business has to fill current needs. Community leaders told me that we’ve got visitors that we want to capture with our natural beauty. With the equipment, I can hire local guides to help show people all that we have to offer in the region.”
Appalachian Drafting’s Steven Harris is creating high paying jobs in the region by working on projects being built all over the country. Using the latest innovations in 3D modeling, Steven and his growing firm use holograms to overlay structural steel elements in the actual space. “You can stand on a construction site and walk around the plans.” Steven wowed attendees at the Economic Forum with demonstrations of the Microsoft Hololens technology in partershp with the Washington County Career and Technical Education Center. “Very few firms are doing this work right now,” said Harris. “We’re leading the way from right here in Southwest Virginia. This loan will help purchase more software to put another person to work.”
Manufacturer and designer Stephen Curd will use a Kiva loan to pay for machines that will put additional employees to work. “I want to do my part to honor our manufacturing tradition. We can still make things, and I want to pay a decent wage to those who help me do it.” The retail shop of Garic Stephens and Lavelle Manufacturing is on the town square in Glade Spring.
Sugar Hill Brewing Company owner Jennifer Bailey will use a Kiva loan for a food truck to take to the parking lots of large employers. “The loan is helping us in a strategy that will put three more people to work.” Bailey, who owns the St. Paul based business with her husband Greg, added, “It’s about more than the money. It feels good to know the community is supporting you. There are times when it’s really tough as a business, and the community support makes a difference.”
Anyone with internet access and $25 can help businesses in the region grow. Loans made through Kiva are paid back by the businesses in between one and three years, at which point the lender can withdraw the money or use it to fund another business. Businesses pay no interest or fees. “It’s another tool that we can put to work,” said Opportunity SWVA committee member Shannon Blevins, Associate Vice Chancellor in the Office of Economic Development & Engagement at UVa-Wise. “We have everything we need in the region to develop vibrant communities. Businesses like these are part of the equation, as so is the active support of the people around them.”
To date, more than 300 individual loans have been made to the five businesses who are collectively seeking $43,000 in expansion capital. Opportunity SWVA encourages residents and supporters to join Kiva and become a SWVA Business Lender today.
For more information, visit www.opportunityswva.org/kiva or contact Becki Joyce (276) 254-0419 or Andrew Barnes (276) 298-9726.