News Column

Loan Program Helps Hispanic-owned Businesses Grow

Jan. 23, 2013

Fernando Del Valle

Hispanic Business Owner
Real estate agent holds the keys to a new house.

For 25 years, Dalia Rodriguez dreamed of owning her own building to house her daycare business.

Then, in October, she got a 10-year loan from the city to build a 4,000-square-foot facility. The loan was for $150,000 at 5 percent interest.

Today, her New Beginnings Child Day Care Center is awaiting completion of its new home.

"I was blessed to obtain this money," Rodriguez said.

The city's Economic Development Corp. in February 2012 launched its loan program with a $248,000 loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. As part of the program, the EDC matched $63,000.

The agency so far has awarded loans to Rodriguez and businessman David Perez, who used his $40,000 to renovate an office building for his income tax preparation business, with additional office space available to rent.

With prospective applicants vying for the remaining $121,000, the Economic Development Corp. is applying for a $400,000 federal loan to expand its program, EDC Executive Director Salomon Torres said.

About eight businesses are hoping for loans to fund construction or expansions, Torres said, so he wants to expand the EDC's loan program to help those businesses grow.

"We don't want them to get discouraged and put aside their plans, or go to another community," he said.

A three-member committee made up of EDC Treasurer Juan Rivera, businessman Bill Weekley, and Elvira Trevino, branch president of First National Bank in La Feria, review loan applications for approval.

"There seems to be a sense of optimism about our area and its growth," Torres said of the push for business expansion, which he sees as a sign of local recovery from the national recession.

"We see in San Benito lots of entrepreneurs anxious to start up or expand who had been hesitant to do so for several years because local banks were not lending to small businesses, or (businesses) were concerned about the economy," he said.

One business hopeful, Eduardo Richa, plans to apply for a $40,000 loan to buy equipment for his aluminum fabrication business.

He likes the application process, because this loan program gives local businesses a chance to meet with EDC officials, who then can review the process and offer speedy approval.

"The decision-making is done locally, so they are very accessible, and they meet with you and are interested in helping you," Richa said. "It has an expedited approval process, compared to commercial bank loans."

Rodriguez, who rented space for her daycare business for 25 years, plans to move to her new location in March.

"It's so awesome," she said of the loan program. "It's good to know there are people who want to see you grow. It's good to know the community wants to help."

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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Source: (c) 2013 Valley Morning Star (Harlingen, Texas)


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