Richmond Indoor Sports Experience (“RISE”) shines as it experiences its fifth year of success as a world-class indoor sports facility. The 48,000 square feet facility features two playing arenas used for soccer, lacrosse and field hockey as well as a baseball academy on the 2nd floor. Located off Route 288, 2300 Oak Lake Blvd. in Midlothian, Virginia , RISE draws patrons from a variety of leagues, sports, cultures and geographic areas in the greater Richmond area and beyond.
Six years ago, four families of young athletes brainstormed about providing space to serve the soccer community especially during the winter season or bad weather. Soccer, field hockey and lacrosse athletes especially echoed their need for such a facility. These families ultimately decided that they would pursue creating such a facility in the Richmond area.
Neil Carns, a member of one of the families and President, stated “It couldn’t have been done without the SBA and Crater Development Corporation. Declines were received from five lenders before we were able to strike a deal.” RISE was originally financed through the SBA’s 504 program and Crater Development Company. The SBA 504 program provides growing businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for acquisition of major fixed assets such as land and buildings. Crater Development Corporation (CDC) is a nonprofit corporation set up to contribute to the economic development of the community. CDCs work with the SBA and private sector lenders focused on providing financing to small businesses.
Typically, a 504 project includes a loan secured with a senior lien from a privatesector lender covering up to 50 percent of the project cost, a loan secured with a junior lien from the CDC (backed by a 100 percent SBA-guaranteed debenture) covering up to 40 percent of the cost, and a contribution of at least 10 percent equity from the small business being helped.
RISE has a knack for bringing the community, events and people together. First, it brought together four families addressing concerns for winter soccer sports conditioning. The outcome was the development of the successful business, Richmond Indoor Sports Experience that employs 4 full time employees and up to 30 plus part time. Next, it built a community of various interested parties regarding diverse sports programs. This resulted in the establishment of a relationship with sports groups who played on indoor turf fields. Currently, there is a strong and supportive association with Richmond’s growing Lacrosse and Field Hockey population and the baseball training facility.
There are also many cultural and language bridges in existence at RISE as evidenced by the Hispanic league that utilizes its facility. A click on the RISE website [www.RISEindoor.com] reveals bilingual links in both Spanish and English. RISE is a place of cultural diversity.
A variety of nations’ flags fly from the rafters at the RISE facility and suggest that Spanish is by no means the only language you may hear from players and families that come to support them. Soccer hosts an international world of fans and you will find RISE patrons from around the globe. Also, with Valentine’s Day close, there may even be a romantic component since one of the most popular leagues is the coed Social Night League. In coed play, RISE appears to be both community and family friendly.
Carns was asked whether RISE favors certain soccer leagues that are larger or more established. To this Carns quipped “We, at RISE, fly the Swiss flag of neutrality.” “We’ve made a commitment at RISE to enhance the quality of community life by providing a clean, safe, familyoriented environment that people can use year-round,” says co-owner Vanessa Carns. And from all accounts, they do.
RNB Technologies, Inc., an engineering services company based in Stafford, works to improve the accuracy of missile defense systems, such as the trajectory problems encountered with the Patriot missiles during the Gulf War/Desert Storm Conflict of 1991.
“Benefiting from the past enables our current military leaders to address current conflicts with more effectiveness and efficiency,” states Ron Oxendine Founder, RNB Technologies, Inc., a Native American, Veteran-owned, small disadvantaged business located in Stafford, Va.
RNB’s experienced and knowledgeable professionals evaluate and improve missile defense systems to support Joint Navy, Army, Air Force and Marine Corps Commands. Much of RNB’s work relates to integrating divergent software packages, which in simple terms, allows different programming languages to communicate.
“This work is of strategic importance to the defense of the nation,” Oxendine said. The military uses RNB’s staff of 88 highly-specialized employees to evaluate, test and improve areas such as mission event planning and analysis of missile defense performance. In fact, RNB Technologies, Inc. was recently honored as one of the Top 100 Diversity Business for 2006 at the National Diversity Business Conference 29-31 Mar 06 in Las Vegas, NV.
Oxendine, a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, began a career as a defense contractor with Techmatics, Inc., holding the title of Senior Program Manager for the Battle Management Command Control Communications/Systems Engineering and Integration (BMC3/SEI) contract supporting the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization in the Pentagon. An expert in theater air and missile defense, he started RNB Technologies, Inc. with his wife and co-founder, Nell Oxendine, the executive vice president, in July 2000.
RNB Technologies, Inc. has experienced many of the obstacles typical of a growing company including with the availability of funds to market RNB’s capability. The firm sought the assistance of a $75,000 loan backed by U.S. Small Business Administration under the 7(a) Loan Guaranty Program. Oxendine states, “The loan has been repaid in full. However, it was important to our effort to achieve controlled company growth and to ensure payroll and other expenses could be met.”
The 7(a) Program is the SBA's primary lending program provides loan guaranties for small businesses unable to secure financing on reasonable terms through normal lending channels. The program operates through private-sector lenders who provide loans guaranteed by the SBA. A maximum loan amount of $2 million is established. However, the maximum dollar amount of the SBA guaranty is generally $1.5 million. The eligibility requirements are as broad as possible in order that this lending program can accommodate most small business financing needs.
The biggest obstacle faced by RNB was educating the Department of Defense about the advantages of contracting with the company. As a certified U.S. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program participant firm, certified in 2001, they overcame many of these difficulties. RNB credits much of their success in the 8(a) arena to the SBA Business Development Specialist Mike O’Neill, Richmond District Office who provided training and support to the firm’s employees. RNB received nine different $3 million sole-source contracts during its first 5 years in the 8(a) program. This led to RNB’s growth of 118 percent for personnel and 76 percent for revenue in 2005. The SBA’s 8(a) certification was instrumental in the company’s increase in sales from $965,000 in 2001 to $7.6 million in 2005.
The 8(a) Business Development Program is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. The SBA has helped thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs over the years to gain a foothold in government contracting. Participation is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage. Participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $3 million for goods and services and $5 million for manufacturing. While the SBA helps 8(a) firms build their competitive and institutional know-how, the agency also encourages them to participate in competitive acquisitions.
To qualify for program certification, a small business must be owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged person. Under the Small Business Act, certain presumed groups include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Native Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans. New rules make it easier for non-minority firms to participate by proving their social disadvantage.
When Beaverdam, Va., resident Rick Ivey began work as a dishwasher at 14, he had no idea he was beginning a path into the restaurant food and service industry that would lead to founding a chain of fast food barbeque restaurants with 11 locations already open and more than 43 more sites in development.
His franchise system, Virginia Barbeque, one of approximately 70 Virginia based franchises, is known for its authentic southern barbeque served with a focus on speed and value. The average order time takes less than five minutes and a family of four can eat for less than twenty dollars.
Critics are raving about Virginia Barbeque’s fare, declaring it “The best barbeque on the planet” (Walter Witt, WWBT-TV, the NBC affiliate in Richmond, VA. 2008), “The Region's Best Barbeque” (Richmond Magazine 2005), “4 of 4 star rating” & “Editors' Pick” (Washington Post City Guide 2007), “The best barbeque they ever had,” (North of the James Magazine 2006) and “Simply the best Barbeque in the Region” (Free Lance Star 2004).
During his 25 years in the restaurant industry, Ivey worked his way up through the ranks of several large hospitality companies including Aramark, Hilton, Radisson and Sheraton, until he reached the pinnacle of his industry by being certified as one of the nation’s 2,000 Executive Chefs. He has held this distinction for the last 10 years.
One of the biggest obstacles Ivey had to deal with in his professional career, he said, was “trying to find a way to balance work and family.” Living in a rural area meant long commutes to the commercial centers, on top of long hours in the commercial kitchens. His first solution to this problem was to create Ivey’s Catering and install a complete commercial catering kitchen attached to his home so he and his wife could always be there for their young children while preparing the food. Unfortunately, they still had to leave their family to serve the high-end catering clients—with his wife, Nina Ivey, always dressed up and out front, greeting everybody and serving, with Rick in the back, cooking like a madman.
Ivey knew he would have to do more, especially if he wanted to spend most of the day with his children. It was after a barbeque catering gig came through, by far the most money and low-maintenance meal he had ever prepared for a catering event, when he decided to open a chain of barbeque restaurants. This, he figured, could pretty much run itself once it was up-and-going, and he and his wife would not have to be there all the time to oversee everything. He knew this would be a complex business proposition and he would need help. Luckily for Ivey, he met Brian Baker, Executive Director of the Rappahannock Small Business Development Center (SBDC), a cooperative effort of the private sector, the educational community and federal, state and local governments designed to provide management assistance to current and prospective small business owners.
Beginning in early 2005, Baker met with Ivey once a month and helped him with the initial planning of the barbeque franchise company. They worked on the mission, vision and initial goals to get it off the ground. Baker helped Ivey create his first business plan, review other websites of similar companies to understand what content Ivey would need on his site, and reviewed growth rates of similar franchises to project what growth rate Ivey could initially expect. The success of their collaboration was recognized by the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2005, which honored Ivey with its “Entrepreneur of the Year” award., This award “acknowledges an individual for excellence in the start up of a new business.”
Ivey’s business strength has always been that he finds out who the best experts are, and then he learns as much as possible from them and implements their best practices into his business model. “I find that those who are the best in their field want to help others who are still climbing their way to the top. There is no competitiveness there, just pure altruism and a willingness to share what they know,” explained Ivey.
In addition to the assistance Rick received from the SBDC and Brian Baker, his mentors and business advisors include Fred Deluca, Founder of Subway; Steve Greenbaum, Founder and CEO of PostNet International and Chairman of the International Franchise Association (IFA) 2008; Dick Rennick, Founder, American Leak Detection, Past Chairman, IFA; Matthew Shay, President/CEO, IFA; and Ray Titus, Founder/CEO of World Franchise Group including Sign Rama, EmbroidMe, Billboard Connections and Franchise Mart.
Rick and Virginia Barbeque were both a big hit at the recent 2008 Central Virginia Franchise & Financing Expo, held in Richmond VA. Virginia Barbeque was not only a exhibitor handing out samples of his product, Rich was also a highlighted speaker at one of the seminars for potential franchisees. This event was a popular resource with the community, educating over 825 potential franchise entrepreneurs on the merits of owning a franchise. It was initiated by the SBA’s Richmond District Office and the Greater Richmond SBDC as the principal host for this event with the International Franchising Association (IFA) as the lead event sponsor. within addition, SBA’s Franchise Registry, the Virginia SBDC Network, SCORE, and New Visions New Ventures Women’s Business Center participated as co-sponsors of this hugely successful event. SBA’s new Franchise Registry is a partnership with FRANdata and a prime example of helping small businesses owners through cooperation between government and industry. Although not a member yet, Rick is planning on registering with the franchise registry in the near future citing it’s many benefits.
One of Ivey’s favorite benefits of running a barbeque restaurant is that he can donate his barbeque to charity events, which turns routine public events into true community experiences with a family feel. Ivey has donated his barbeque to such events as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boy Scouts of America, Boys and Girls Club, FORD Fredericksburg Off-Road Duathlon, Friends of the Rappahannock, Greater Fredericksburg Habitat for Humanity Affiliate Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and the March of Dimes.