Sparks small business first in Northern Nevada aided by Nevada Opportunity Fund
To learn more about the Nevada Opportunity Fund and how to apply, email Jerrie Merritt at firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat and Terri Schultz had outgrown their garage.
Owners of Schultz’s Creations, a custom jewelry and repair business based in Sparks, the Schultzs had been focused on growing their business — namely, out of the garage and into a storefront — for the past two years.
However, they didn’t have the finances to lease a space or purchase the necessary equipment to expand their business. Making matters worse, the Schultzs, because of their short business history and the amount of money they needed to expand, were unable to qualify for a conventional small business loan.
“There were numerous hurdles,” Terri Schultz said in a phone interview with the NNBV.
Seemingly at rope’s end, the Schultzs, however, discovered a proverbial lifeline — the Nevada Opportunity Fund. Created during the last legislative session under Senate Bill 126, the NOF set aside $1 million in state funds — available through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development — to assist businesses unable to meet the qualifications for a conventional small business loan.
This includes small business owners with a short history, low credit scores, a past bankruptcy, or other barriers, said Jerrie Merritt, senior VP at Bank of Nevada and Community Reinvestment Act representative for First Independent Bank and Bank of Nevada, which is the administrator of the fund on behalf of the state.
In early August, Pat and Terri Schultz were the first small business owners in Northern Nevada to receive a loan from the Nevada Opportunity Fund. With that, the Schultzs used their $25,000 loan to settle into a store/workshop in Sparks and buy a new electronic welder, a new polisher and new stones — sapphires, opals, turquoises, among others.
“It helped immensely,” Terri Schultz said of the three-year loan, which has a 9-percent interest rate. “Because we were doing a lot of this on credit card debt, trying to get into the space and get all the pieces that we need. And the credit card interest rate is huge. Being able to have that loan at a lower interest rate and being able to pay off the credit card so we can do all of this has been quite a relief.”
A startup business like Schultz’s Creations can qualify for up to $25,000 through the Nevada Opportunity Fund. Meanwhile, existing businesses can qualify for a $50,000 unsecured loan and a $100,000 secured loan, Merritt said. The repayment term ranges from three to five years, she added.
“It is very exciting to be able to assist small businesses in both Southern Nevada and Northern Nevada,” said Merritt, adding that eight small businesses have received a loan from the fund thus far.
Merritt said the Nevada Opportunity Fund is especially important because the state has more existing small businesses and startups than ever before, and they’re all trying to access capital.
What’s more, many small businesses that were hit during the Great Recession filed for bankruptcy and have low credit scores as a result.
“It is truly a state of Nevada initiative on behalf of GOED, because all small businesses in the state of Nevada have an opportunity to apply for these funds,” Merritt said. “This fund was created specifically to help small businesses that was challenged with getting a loan from their own financial institution.”
Nevada was honored in the 3- to 5-million population category, alongside Kentucky and Utah, while Alabama was awarded the Gold Shovel in the same Category. Other Gold Shovel Awards went to Texas, Georgia, Virginia, Arizona and Mississippi.