$1 Million CARES Act Revolving Loan Fund Established to Assist Lawrence County Businesses

RAPID CITY, SD 8.28.20 – Black Hills Community Economic Development (BHCED) has received $1 million in CARES Act funding to capitalize and administer a Revolving Loan Fund for Lawrence County. This new revolving loan fund will provide critical gap financing to small businesses and entrepreneurs in Lawrence County in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

These funds were awarded through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration as part of the recent CARES Act package designed to provide federal economic development assistance programs to help communities prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic.

BHCED Executive Director Fran White stated, “This is a great resource to help the economy of Lawrence County recover from the current pandemic. We want to help businesses which have been negatively impacted by COVID-19 with these funds, but we also want to support new business growth to improve the health of the overall economy.”

Lawrence County businesses interested in applying or learning more, should contact BHCED loan officer Jerred Tarrell at JTarrell@wrbsc.com or 605-721-7437.

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Stotts Joins BHCED as Loan Officer

RAPID CITY, SD 8.27.20 – The Board of Directors of Black Hills Community Economic Development (BHCED) is pleased to announce that Sydney Stotts has joined the organization as a loan officer. In this position, she works with BHCED Executive Director Fran White in administering the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 504 business lending program.

Stotts is a Rapid City native with a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Black Hills State University. Prior to coming to BHCED, she was an internet director in the automotive industry. Stotts states, “I was looking for a new challenge and am thrilled that this opportunity will allow me to help grow small businesses in the area I call home.”

“We are pleased to welcome Sydney to our lending team,” said White. “Her education, enthusiasm, and desire to see businesses thrive will contribute to the continued success of our partnerships with local lenders and the SBA 504 program.”

Black Hills Community Economic Development is a non-profit economic development organization formed to foster economic development, create and preserve jobs, and stimulate growth of small businesses in our region. It is one of only four SBA Certified Development Companies in South Dakota. To date, BHCED has supported the growth of 1,922 jobs and nearly $300 million in business investments.


Financial Resources Available to Area Businesses Through Local and Federal Partnership

RAPID CITY, SD – 8.6.20 – The West River Foundation for Economic & Community Development (WRFECD) has established a new revolving loan fund in partnership with the US Economic Development Administration (EDA).

The $1 million revolving loan fund creates an additional source of capital for small business owners located in Pennington, Perkins, Fall River, Butte, Meade, Custer, and Bennett counties. These counties experienced numerous natural disasters in 2019 that resulted in two FEMA Presidential Disaster Declarations.

This economic development recovery tool is designed to retain and create jobs by expanding the capacity of existing local businesses, as well as supporting new business start-ups in the impacted areas. Unlike other revolving loan funds administered by the West River Business Service Center, this fund is available to small businesses located in Rapid City.

For more information on the revolving loan fund, or to apply for funds, please contact the West River Business Service Center at 605-721-7437.

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Dixon Coffee Company

Kayleigh Dixon started working in coffee shops while a student at Black Hills State University and had a dream of one day starting her own coffee business. “It can be kind of intimidating,” she recalls. “Even though I majored in business management in college, doing it yourself puts it on a whole other scale. My husband, Christopher, gave me the push I needed and said, ‘You can do this.'”

Small Business Development Center Regional Director, Dona Leavens, at West River Business Service Center, gave Kayleigh and Christopher the business advice they needed to start Dixon Coffee Company, in 2014.

“Dona was fantastic,” Kayleigh says. “She is a gem. She critiqued our business plan and went over what a prospective loan officer might ask us. She did the numbers for us, what our start-up costs would be and our break-even analysis. It was just a huge asset for us, and we’re grateful for her time.” According to Dona, the admiration is mutual: “They’re both very driven, and they’re very good people, and I think that’s part of the appeal of their business—it’s become part of the community. They focus on working with local vendors and selling locally-sourced products.”

Dixon Coffee Company has become a successful local business. Kayleigh says, “We’ve had a really great response and a very loyal customer base. We also have an awesome crew. It’s a great team with low turnover.” They have plans to expand the menu at Dixon in the near future and offer more food options, but when it comes to running a coffee business Kayleigh says, “I love the people the most. That’s what so great about coffee—it brings people together.”


About You Physical Therapy

Physical therapist and owner of About You Physical Therapy in Rapid City, Laura Bonsness, recently purchased a previously vacant building on Sheridan Lake Road through the SBA 504 loan program. Now Laura is transforming the former funeral home into a state-of-the-art physical therapy facility and community education space. She first started working with WRBSC’s Small Business Development Center Regional Director, Dona Leavens, nearly a decade ago.

Dona says, “Laura got the funding to start her business in 2010 and quickly began expanding it. She has added staff and has outgrown her current space. She’s a phenomenal businesswoman and a real go-getter.”

Laura worked with Pioneer Bank & Trust Senior Vice President, Rick Messer, and Black Hills Community Economic Development Director, Fran White, to obtain her SBA 504 loan funding for the expansion. Fran says, “This is a classic 504 loan scenario — going from leasing to owning your business space, as well as adding employees and different services. Laura’s really going to grow with it into the future.”

For Laura, who’s been in the field of physical therapy for 25 years, opening her own business “felt like a God-calling.” She cites good partnerships and a great team of staff through the years for enabling her to build her business: “It’s about the unity of the team and the gifts they bring and being passionate.” Working with Pioneer Bank and Trust and the SBA has been a “win-win” for her. “I’m most excited about the community outreach we’ll be able to do with the expansion. In the smaller facility we couldn’t do that.” In addition to physical therapy services, Laura plans to offer health education and have speakers in the new space.


Revolving Loan Fund Success Story

Part coffee shop, part glass blowing studio, Pump House at Mind Blown Studio in Deadwood is in the midst of a substantial expansion project.

Owner and glass artist, Toni Gerlach, received a small loan from the West River Revolving Loan Fund (WRRLF) in 2013 to start her business, and in 2018, with the business doing well, she secured a loan for expansion in partnership with Black Hills Community Economic Development’s Lawrence County Revolving Loan Fund. Toni says she wanted to increase her glass blowing equipment in order to produce more work and hire more glass blowers and coffee shop workers. She says this means added customers for local businesses as well: “People from the surrounding five states come to take a glass blowing class and then spend the night in the area because glass takes overnight to cool. Also, glass blowing is not a skill that everyone has, so hiring more glass blowers means that people will be moving here from other parts of the country, such as Tulsa and Pennsylvania.”

The West River Business Service Center helped Toni secure the revolving loan funding. WRRLF supports small businesses to expand and grow, often partnering with banks, but offering more flexibility in terms of the types of collateral accepted. Toni says having had the experience of being denied a loan in the past, it felt great to have everything go so smoothly working with the West River Business Service Center staff, “I feel like they’re willing to take a risk on you, on something out of the ordinary.” It’s a risk that has definitely paid off, bringing more jobs, tourists, and artists to Deadwood.

The Pump House at Mind Blown Studio is located at 73 Sherman Street, Deadwood, SD, (605) 571-1071. You can track the remodeling progress on the Pump House’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/mindblownstudio/.

Toni Gerlach, Mind Blown Studio

Helping Businesses Achieve Government Contracts

Small business owners may not be used to hearing the words “zero cost,” but WRBSC’s new procurement consultant, Amy Meyer, wants South Dakota business owners to know about a free service for them. At one of the four Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) in South Dakota, Amy offers free advice and assistance to help businesses apply for state, local, and federally funded government contracts. The world of government contracts presents plenty of opportunities for businesses, but Amy says it can be overwhelming, especially when someone is not familiar with the process. “It’s time consuming with a lot of paperwork to go through, and everything must be done correctly,” Amy says.

Before beginning her PTAC work in July 2018, Amy was WRBSC’s administrative assistant for two and a half years. She says she’s enjoying this new position, “It’s neat to learn something new and to help people.” Amy says the best part is receiving an email or thank you note from a client and knowing that the PTAC expertise helped a business owner. As the daughter of small business owners, Amy understands their experiences from a personal perspective, as well, and encourages people to look into bidding on government contracts: “There are so many things that state, local, and federal governments are buying, if somebody here offers it, then they don’t have to go out of state, and the money stays here. That helps our state.”

A lifelong learner, Amy says she’s excited to grow her knowledge by attending annual PTAC conferences. “I want to continue building my expertise in understanding what governments want.” With a background in accounting, Amy also plans to focus on learning more about cost analysis and looks forward to assisting future clients with this.

If you’re interested in learning more about PTAC services, contact Amy Meyer ameyer@tie.net 605-716-0010

Amy Meyer - West River Business Service Center

Board Member Spotlight

Black Hills Community Economic Development’s newest board member, Kory Menken, brings a wealth of experience to the position, as well as West River roots. Menken grew up in Rapid City and worked in the congressional offices of Senators Thune and Pressler. His work in economic and workforce development then took him east for 12 years, where he served as the Director of Workforce Solutions for The Siouxland Initiative and the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce in Sioux City, Iowa and also as the Executive Director of the North Sioux City Economic Development Corporation. However, he knew he would come back, “I’ve always been a West River guy, and I want to put my expertise and experience to work for West River.”

Kory became Executive Director of the Spearfish Economic Development Corporation two years ago and has been active with the Rushmore Region Economic Development Alliance. He has prior experience working with the SBA 504 Loan Program and says he’s looking forward to doing 504 loan reviews while serving on the board, “It’s a great tool for small businesses.”

Kory says he was honored when the BHCED board reached out to him and asked him to join, “I’m impressed by what they do and like the regional approach. I’m glad to be part of such a good organization.”

Kory Menken

Dona Leavens Named SBDC State Star

Dona Leavens, Regional Director of the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) located at the West River Business Service Center, has been named the 2018 South Dakota SBDC State Star.  Dona was chosen for her leadership, significant contribution to the SBDC program, and her commitment to small business.  Congratulations, Dona!

Dona Leavens

Borrower Spotlight: Lemmon IGA

Larry and Marilyn (Blondie) Woolston have spent their careers running grocery stores in rural South Dakota and Montana. Their last remaining store was the IGA on Main Street in Lemmon. Due to the limited size of the building and a lot unsuitable for expansion, the Woolstons decided to expand their store in a new location. Last year, they moved into their brand new location at the intersection of Highways 12 & 73. Along with a doubled-in-size grocery store, the location features gas pumps and a coffee shop. The Woolston’s partnered with Dacotah Bank and Black Hills Community Economic Development to obtain an SBA 504 loan for the project. By using the 504 program, the down payment was lower than conventional financing, and the interest rate is fixed for the term of the SBA loan.