Loan program offers small businesses a boost

Business owners with big plans face the ever-present task of finding funding for their projects.

Among those entrepreneurs is Stacy Miller, who became a business owner back in 2011 when she purchased Oberjoch Kennels. Oberjoch is a boarding and grooming business for dogs and cats. Not long ago, Miller decided she wanted to own the property where the business was located at 2800 Reach Road, Williamsport, rather than lease it from the previous owner.

Enter SEDA-Council of Governments.

She managed to secure an Intermediary Relending Program (IRP) loan of $116,000 through SEDA-COG, according to Ray Haden, the agency’s business relationship manager.

“I was kind of proud of what we were able to do for Stacy. She was already there but paying rent. We were able to save her over $10,000 a year in rent expense,” Haden said. “Essentially, she will have an asset.”

The loan, at 3.25 percent interest, gave her a big boost for her business. The total project cost was $294,320, with M&T Bank financing a $145,000 loan; and the seller providing a $25,000 note.

Miller is  looking to expand her business, perhaps add a building with an indoor recreation area for dogs or even a pool. Swimming, she noted, is great therapy for canines. She also is considering an outside walking track for dogs.

“We also take in reptiles and birds,” she said.

Miller has been training and grooming dogs since she was a teenager.

Haden noted that many business owners simply are not aware of loan possibilities such as IRP. The IRP loan, administered by SEDA-COG, came from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Haden said small business owners such as Miller generally come to SEDA-COG through bank recommendations.

“Oberjoch definitely qualified for a small business loan,” Haden said. “She (Miller) was looking at purchasing real estate for her operation. She was working with M&T Bank. It was a situation where she could really benefit.”

As a relatively new business owner, Miller said running her own enterprise is a constant learning curve. Among her biggest early challenges was learning about payroll taxes, and budgeting.

She credited the Small Business Development Center for helping her along the way.

“There are a lot of resources out there for a new business person,” Miller said.