Monday, April 23, 2018
Business

Pasco EDC offers 'microloan' option to some businesses

A Trinity pediatrician whose idea of a "concierge" practice faltered in a down economy is the first recipient of a microloan program for small businesses from the Pasco Economic Development Council.

Jay Harvey, who runs Personal Pediatric Care, originally wanted to offer a membership-based practice that would allow people to pay a yearly fee to receive more personalized care. But he closed the practice last June after only a few months because not enough families were willing to pay the higher fees.

"The whole membership thing blew up in my face a little bit," he said. "Essentially I dug myself a hole."

He went to several banks looking for a bridge loan to help pay bills while he rebuilds a traditional practice. He was rejected each time because of a high debt load and tightened lending standards.

His last rejection came from a loan officer who said, "You can go to 10 more banks, and none of them are going to lend you more money."

That banker put him in touch with Hap Fairman, a counselor for the Pasco-Hernando SCORE nonprofit organization that gives advice to small businesses. Fairman mentioned the new microloan program and said Harvey might be an ideal candidate. The program is tailored to small companies that struggle to get traditional bank loans.

The program has $220,000 in startup money, including a $100,000 grant from Pasco County. Other donors include banks, Saint Leo University and Tim Tangredi, CEO of Odessa nanotechnology firm Dais Analytic.

The maximum loan is $35,000, with terms ranging from 12 months to six years. Interest rates range from prime plus 1.75 percent to prime plus 3 percent.

Harvey declined to say how much money he received, but said "it's not a huge loan."

"My primary issue was just cash flow," he said, adding his company has three employees and about 900 patients right now. "I'm using it to basically keep the doors open and keep paying the vendors."

The microloan program also offers owners advice and training on how to start or grow a new company. Loans can be used for working capital, inventory and equipment, but cannot be used to buy real estate or refinance existing debt.

Lee Logan can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6236.

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