Partnership smooths path for startups, small businesses

Colorado Enterprise Fund, town create sustainable loan fund for Parker entrepreneurs

Nick Puckett
npuckett@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/3/20

Petit Parker has been in business for about two years, but owner Jill Callan wanted to move the storefront somewhere with more vibrancy—and what better place to move in Parker than to Mainstreet. …

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Partnership smooths path for startups, small businesses

Colorado Enterprise Fund, town create sustainable loan fund for Parker entrepreneurs

Posted

Petit Parker has been in business for about two years, but owner Jill Callan wanted to move the storefront somewhere with more vibrancy—and what better place to move in Parker than to Mainstreet.

Callan has designed children's clothing for years in New York City and owned a store there for about 10 years before moving to Colorado recently. Petit Parker is a boutique store for baby and toddler clothing.

The business side of things, Callan admitted, was not her strong suit.

“I come from an artistic background,” Callan said. “I'm obviously not an accountant or I wouldn't be in this business.”

Petit Parker now sits at 19555 Mainstreet, a move Callan said would not have been possible without help from a new public-private partnership between the Town of Parker and the Colorado Enterprise Fund.

Callan is the first Parker business owner to benefit from the new partnership between CEF and the town. The town has allocated $50,000 over the next three years and CEF will match those funds—through federal and state grants—to create a reliable lending source for small business owners. The $100,000 annual Parker Business Loan Fund will be reserved for business owners who face struggles in obtaining a traditional bank loan.

Callan said her financial statements required to obtain a bank loan were “not where they needed to be.” Callan contacted CEF, which assigned her a consultant to help organize her finances and determine the viability of a move to downtown Parker.

“My dream has been to be on Mainstreet,” Callan said. “It's where everybody comes for the farmer's market and the parades. All of that buzz is going on here.”

CEF partners with seven other agencies along the Front Range, including the cities of Arvada, Boulder, Longmont and Loveland; Adams and Weld counties and Rocky Mountain Innosphere, a Fort Collins incubator.

Ceyl Prinster, CEO and president of CEF, said the fund is designed to help business owners who can't obtain a traditional bank loan for a myriad of reasons. Maybe the person doesn't have much of a track record or collateral or has personal credit issues

“A lot of those things we can be a lot more flexible about because we're not a bank,” Prinster said.

Parker Town Council has made strides to assist local small businesses in the past. The town has operated a capital grant program where the town would issue one-time loans to businesses under certain parameters. Economic Development Manager Matt Carlson said that program lacked lasting impact, which the revolving loan fund is designed to achieve.

“Capitalization is always an issue,” Carlson said. “For a lot of people in small service businesses, that looks like friends and family. For a lot of people, it looks like pledging your life assets to this business. Even then, it's a lot of times not enough.”

The ongoing consulting services help guide businesses to mitigate the risk involved with issuing these loans. CEF-partnered businessowners default at the same rate as standard lending. The Parker Business Loan Fund relies on success of the businesses it issues loans to in order to replenish the fund. 

Carlson said the impact of the loan fund will hopefully have a larger effect on Parker's economy and the town, which is heavily reliant on sales tax revenue.

“It allows more businesses to start, succeed and grow, which means retail sales tax,” Carlson said. But, Carlson added, the fund will not only create more diversity in business offerings in the town, it will also help diversify the town's tax base away from its heavy reliance on sales tax.

The long-run goal this loan hopes to achieve is to boost employment in the town.

“If we can diversify away from (sales tax), and that looks like employment dollars, then that's a very good thing,” Carlson said. “We hope this will allow entrepreneurs and innovators to start their businesses here.”

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