A Grocery Store and More

Photos by Rich Watson

by Rich Watson

Successful small businesses create healthy, sustainable and diverse rural economies. Healthy small businesses create jobs, re-investable wealth and the ability to live a rural life style. The North Central Washington Business Loan Fund helps create an environment where small rural businesses can start, grow and thrive by connecting entrepreneurs to training, consulting and financing services.

In the fall of 2006 we assisted a grocery store in downtown Bridgeport to purchase its rented building, and expand the size of its predominantly Hispanic food inventory and deli operation. The challenges came in finding ways to evaluate the value of the building (downtown Bridgeport did not have a lot of real estate sales for comparisons), projecting the cash flow that would result from increased sales coupled with increased overhead, and finally, the overriding question of how much market potential existed for this type of business.

Working with the business owner, the Small Business Development Center, and an appraisal service to address the collateral and cash flow issues, with other business owners to ascertain the market potential, and with our USDA funding source a loan package was proposed. The package allowed the owner to purchase the building, remodel interior walls to expand the inventory and deli and to provide a small amount of working capital.

Today, the brightly colored building is a cornerstone in Bridgeport. The owner has since purchased an adjacent property, removed a dilapidated, unsightly building and is in process of preparing to expand his grocery business. More than a grocery store, the building reflects a transformation in the downtown core business area. From drab to colorful, from empty to overflowing with goods and customers, the combination of an entrepreneur and a lender who believes in small business has impacted a North Central Washington community by providing new life to a downtown business district. The owner received “Business of the year” in 2008 by the Bridgeport Chamber of Commerce.

Rich Watson is Loan Officer of the NCW Business Loan Fund. The NCW Business Loan Fund serves an area slightly over 10,000 square miles in size with approximately 147,000 people. Lending over $4.6M to small businesses in that market has saved or created over 540 jobs for North Central Washington. Learn more about the Loan Fund at www.ncwloanfund.org.