When local ice cream entrepreneurs Greg and Ashley Garrison of The Hop found the perfect space for a new production facility this spring, the couple needed fast access to capital for fitting up their new kitchen. Two weeks after contacting Mountain BizWorks, the Garrisons received a check. “The process was the smoothest it possibly could have been,” recalled Greg, who noted that the new facility allowed The Hop to increase its maximum production from 600 gallons per week last summer to 1,000 gallons per week this year.
With a new $1.25 million commitment of capital from the Small Business Administration (SBA), Mountain BizWorks is now positioned to expand its microloan program to support even more businesses like the Garrison’s, said executive director Patrick Fitzsimmons. SBA Deputy District Director Mike Arriola visited Asheville on Wednesday to award the new funding.
“Since 2006, Mountain BizWorks has participated in the SBA microlending program. In that time, it has provided SBA loans to over 80 startups and 150 existing businesses,” Arriola commented. “But beyond the statistics, they are helping to create the American dream for individual entrepreneurs like Greg who just spoke.”
Bill Carrington of Self-Help Credit Union, who serves as president of Mountain BizWorks’ Board of Directors, said Mountain BizWorks funding has created 209 new jobs and sustained 180 others in the local community over the past two years.
Arriola praised the Mountain BizWorks team, and expressed the opinion that the organization “exemplifies what it means to be an effective microlender.” The SBA, Arriola concluded, “has a very high regard for Mountain BizWorks, and we are thrilled to be a part of helping them fulfill their mission.”