The 504 Company named 2015 Community Advantage Lender of the Year by U.S. Small Business Administration
Albany, N.Y. – The 504 Company has been selected by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) as the 2015 Community Advantage Lender of the Year. The award will be presented at a ceremony and reception at the White House, on Friday, May 8, the final day of National Small Business Week.
In announcing the award, Maria Contreras-Sweet, administrator of the SBA, cited The 504 Company's "hard work, innovative ideas and dedication to the community" as playing an important role in its success with Community Advantage loans.
"Since we rolled this program out four years ago, Patrick MacKrell and his team have embraced this program and made it their own. Having the number one Community Advantage Lender in the country in our region is just an outstanding achievement and deserves this national recognition," said Kellie LeDet, SBA's Region II Regional Administrator.
"We are honored to be recognized with this award, which affirms the work we do every day to help small businesses succeed," said MacKrell, The 504 Company’s President and CEO. "The Community Advantage program has allowed us to provide much-needed funds to some very entrepreneurial businesses that might not have had a real chance at success without these funds."
The 504 Company topped all other Community Advantage lenders in the nation in terms of Community Advantage lending providing loans to startup, early stage and mature small businesses. Community Advantage is a pilot program introduced by the SBA to meet the credit, management, and technical assistance needs of small businesses in underserved markets. It is designed to provide mission-oriented lenders, primarily nonprofit financial intermediaries focused on economic development, access to 7(a) loan guarantees for loans up to $250,000.
Businesses in underserved markets that meet SBA's size standards may qualify for Community Advantage loans. Although a borrower must prove credit worthiness and the viability of the business idea, unlike traditional lending, qualification is not limited by the size of the borrower's balance sheet, or the amount of collateral involved. Loans can be used to fund working capital, equipment purchases, real estate acquisition and construction, leasehold improvements, business acquisitions, and debt refinance.
In July 2011, The 504 Company was among the first lenders to be approved for participation in the SBA's Community Advantage program. As a leading Community Advantage lender, The 504 Company has processing and eligibility expertise that its partner banks can leverage to increase their SBA loan activity. In addition, The 504 Company often takes "another look” at loan requests that have been declined by banks.
When Jamar White and Ron Lee, owners of Brooklyn-based Buffalo Boss, a casual restaurant that serves organic chicken wings, were planning a second location they sought out assistance from The 504 Company on the recommendation of a friend who had previously received a 504 loan from the company.
Back in 2010, when White and Lee were looking for money to open their first location, the fledgling entrepreneurs had been rejected by traditional lenders, and so they maxed-out their credit cards and brought on friends and family (including White’s cousin, rapper and music producer Jay-Z) as investors. They wanted to do it differently the second time.
As soon as she started working with White and Lee, The 504 Company's Christina Lopez saw the partners' passion and enthusiasm for building their brand, as well as their 16-hour-a-day dedication to the enterprise.
"Buffalo Boss is an example of a company that knows its customer. Both primary owners are personally committed to the company's success and are involved in day-to-day operations and decision making," said Lopez, vice president, The 504 Company.
The $243,600 loan that White and Lee received in 2012 through the 504 program helped fund the opening of the partners' Buffalo Boss on Jay Street. "If we’d not gotten that loan, we would have found another way. But it probably would have taken us at least a year and a half longer to pull things together," Lee said.
Proceeds from the loan also helped pay off a high-interest loan that the partners took out to cover fees when they opened a Buffalo Boss concession at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center earlier that year. Those concession rights established Buffalo Boss’ wings as the official chicken wings of the Brooklyn Nets.
"At the end of day, these types of business loans are so important to small businesses like ours. They create new opportunities and jobs, and help grow the economy as well," White said. "We really believe in investing in a community that is investing in us."
More recently, Buffalo Boss has sought and received financing from The 504 Company through the SBA Community Advantage Program for its third location.
When Amy and Patrick Durkan were preparing to open Durkan Fencing Academy in Moonachie, N.J. in 2014, their goal was to become the best fencing facility on the East Coast. Patrick, a four-time All American at Columbia University, had trained several World Cup and national level finalists in the metropolitan area.
"Loan proceeds were needed to support the build-out, fit-up and start-up capital needs for the new business venture," said Steve Willard, senior vice president of The 504 Company. "Since repayment was based on projections, The 504 Company provided a $148,000 loan that would not otherwise have been available through conventional channels."
"The 504 Company helped walk me through the process of opening a small business," said Amy Durkan. "Originally, our goal was a smaller business, but with financing we were able to create an amazing state-of-the-art facility for fencers in New Jersey, and now we can host large regional tournaments for over 400 fencers."
William "Big Bill" Benonis was planning to purchase a franchise of Jake's Wayback Burgers in Chalfont, Penn. in 2013 and needed funding for leasehold improvements, construction, equipment, inventory and working capital, and he sought help from The 504 Company, which provided a $250,000 loan.
"As an under-secured, start-up restaurant operation, conventional financing was not available to him. We utilized the SBA's Community Advantage program to deliver a financing solution, which led to the creation of seven new full-time equivalent jobs," said Willard.
"The customer service was outstanding," said Benonis. "They walked me through everything and helped me turn a difficult situation into a profitable business loan. I would recommend them to anyone who is in need of financing."
For information about Community Advantage, visit www.the504company.com