For some Central Kentucky small businesses and entrepreneurs, getting up and running isn’t as simple as walking into a bank and applying for financing. For those who need alternative routes to start or grow their business, experienced resources are available in Lexington to assist with business development, financing and business coaching. Here is information on several local organizations.
389 Waller Avenue, Suite 130
(864) 231-9902, lexington.score.org
SCORE Lexington is a non-profit organization that provides free professional advice to small businesses. Run by volunteers, the organization offers mentorship to people who want help with their small business, from start-up to recovery. SCORE also offers workshops for a nominal fee.
Chapter President Barb Ellenbrook said anyone interested in starting a business can call SCORE and be connected with a mentor who will help individuals write business plans, apply for a grant or apply for a small business loan from the US Small Business Administration. Experts in everything from information technology to social media to finance are available to help clients who “arrive with a dream” and can use guidance to turn that dream into reality, Ellenbrook said. . Mentoring meetings are available in person or online.
The organization also offers online workshops and archives of past webinars. Plus, a resource library, including a resilience center, gives small businesses the resources they need to become and stay successful.
Commerce Lexington Access Loan Program
330 Main Street East, Suite 205
(859) 257-7666, commercelexington.com
Commerce Lexington has made its Access loan program available to small businesses since 2001, said Mark Turner, director of communications for Commerce Lexington. The program provides small businesses with access to technical assistance to help minority-owned businesses obtain financing.
Bringing together area lending institutions with the Bluegrass Small Business Development Center, the Access Loan program helps businesses develop a business plan and gather the information they need to improve their chances of getting credit. Interested businesses must be in the Greater Lexington area and be for-profit businesses seeking loans for start-up, expansion, investment, or franchise expenses. Loans must be at least $5,000 and can only be used for working capital, inventory, leasehold improvements or equipment for business use.
Community Ventures SBA 504 Loan Program
1450 N. Broadway
(859) 231-0054, cvky.org
Community Ventures is a Small Business Administration Certified Development Corporation serving Kentucky. The organization can offer SBA 504 loans, funded and regulated by the Small Business Administration.
Established by Congress, the 504 Loan Program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing of up to $5 million to promote business growth and job creation. Only available through SBA Community Partners or certified development companies such as Community Ventures, the program provides funding for the purchase of existing buildings, new buildings, land or equipment and machinery, as well as to contribute improvements to grounds, streets, utilities, parking lots, landscaping and existing facilities, and certain professional fees.
Community Ventures also offers private workspace – physical or virtual – and offers small businesses a range of professional support services at affordable prices. In Lexington, the Center for Entrepreneurship offers offices near downtown, with free on-site parking and an in-person receptionist. Businesses have access to a conference room, wireless high-speed Internet access, office equipment such as photocopiers, scanners and fax machines, as well as desktop computers. Its virtual office space offers small businesses a professional mailing address, personalized answering services and access to conference rooms.
Kentucky Women’s Business Center
1450 N. Broadway
(859) 231-0054, cvky.org
Hosted by Community Ventures, the Women’s Business Center of Kentucky (WBC) provides women small business owners and entrepreneurs with resources and training to launch and operate their businesses.
Phyllis Alcorn, the centre’s executive director, said the organization works with women to improve their chances of getting loans. “We don’t provide financing in the form of a loan, but we will help them tighten up that business plan and put them in a position where they can be good borrowers of funds,” she said.
Last October, WBC held a Small Business Starter Kit contest to help women get their businesses started, as part of celebrating Women’s Small Business Month. About 20 women applied, Alcorn said, submitting their business plan summary. Six months later, the winner, V&M Aesthetics in Morehead, is almost ready to go. The boutique spa will offer results-driven, minimally invasive, medical-grade treatments for all skin tones under the guidance of licensed physicians.
WBC will likely repeat the contest this year, Alcorn said, with some additional aspects, although no final decision has yet been made.
The organization also offers a four-session in-person course on Building Your Business, designed to give women entrepreneurs and business owners a foundation in running a successful business, including advice on permits and licensing, state registration of a business, marketing, management, financial reporting, and business operations. The course takes place every two months and is limited to 20 registrants per session. The next session starts in June.