Historically, when Ernie Kincaid and Jerry Cook take on a project at ACE Adventure Resort in Minden, W.Va., they approach it a little differently than other business owners might. The owners of the 1,500 plus acres of wilderness nestled along the banks of the New River usually start the project then try to figure out how they are going to finance it.
The adventurous duo, who have owned the multi-faceted resort since 1987, were in the midst of constructing a new welcome center to replace the old dilapidated trailer/garage structure guests see on their initial arrival to the Fayette County resort, when they realized they probably would need some financial assistance.
“You never get a second chance to make a first impression,” said Cook when asked why about the decision to build the large log cabin-style structure at the entrance of the resort, behind which is a large lake that incorporates numerous water activities and a zip line.
After approaching several financial institutions in search of a loan to finish the project and consolidate some outstanding high-interest debt, Community Trust Bank stepped up to the plate.
“Ernie and Jerry have been well established business owners for years and provide employment for over 400 people,” said Clovis Lawless, vice president at Community Trust Bank in Summersville. “We looked at the loan as a way to keep a highly productive southern West Virginia business viable and remain a factor to the continual improvement of the local economy.”
The loans were approved under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Jobs Act provision which helped both the bank and the borrower. Community Trust was able to receive a 90 percent 7(a) loan guarantee from SBA on both loans and ACE took advantage of the temporary elimination of guaranty fees which saved them over $126,000.
Without the increased loan guaranty and the waiving of the fees, the loans probably would not have been made both the lender and borrower indicated.
The debt consolidation loan contributed to the increase of cash flow for the business with the other loan used to cover the costs of capital improvements on the property.
The business loans that SBA guarantees do not come from the agency, but rather from banks. The loans are funded by the lenders who make the decision to approve or disapprove an applicant’s request. The SBA guaranty reduces the lender’s risk of borrower non-payment and gives small businesses a flexible financing alternative when funding might not be otherwise available on reasonable terms.
“Over the past few years our customers and philosophy have changed,” said Kincaid. “It used to be people came to the area just for white-water rafting. Now they want more adventure, more options and more things to do. That’s why we have expanded our offerings to include over a dozen outdoor adventures like zip line, ATV and fishing tours, mountain biking, paintball and more.”
The loans have also given ACE the latitude to begin working on projects to add winter activities such as the building of a snow tubing course. Kincaid and Cook have also been formulating ideas to offer even more summer outdoor activities.
With the construction of a National Boy Scout Camp opening in 2013 right next to ACE, the future looks very good for Kincaid and Cook.
“Not only will the Boy Scout facility bring over 50,000 Scouts to the area on a yearly basis, just think of the opportunity to provide their families with alternative activities when they bring them to the camp,” said Kincaid. “This plays right into our philosophy of making ACE more than a place to spend a day, but make it a destination. Give the customers a multitude of choices of activities to do each day.”
And if the expansion projects planned by ACE require the use of financial assistance, Community Trust Bank and the SBA will be right there to help the resort fulfill their mission statement which is to give their guests the highest quality outdoor adventure and have a great time doing it!