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LAUNCH COURSE

21 Shortstop

From their kitchen to your table, catering to eat-in, 21 ShortStop is serving up southern cooking with a spice of business acumen.  One patron says “I really like this place, southern cooking at its best!  Nice portions, good selection, flavorful and affordable...yum!”  Before the lights go on in the kitchen Mr. & Mrs. Arthur Johnson understand firsthand what it means to have a business plan that they follow just like a recipe. 

Mr. Arthur Johnson came to The University of Georgia Small Business Development Center (SBDC), Savannah for help with opening 21 ShortStop, a restaurant in Pt. Wentworth, Georgia offering “Southern Cooking with a Touch of Soul”.  Mr. Johnson already owned some land on Highway 21 between Savannah and Rincon that he believed would be an excellent location for his restaurant.  He needed help developing a business plan and acquiring funding so he could build and open the restaurant on his land.  His wife Sandra had extensive experience and would run the restaurant with the assistance of other family members.

The SBDC is a center for the delivery of joint government, academic and private sector services for the benefit of small business and the national welfare.  It is committed to the development and productivity of business and the economy in specific geographical regions.  “The Savannah SBDC takes great pride in assisting and enhancing the small business sphere, one entrepreneur at a time,” said Kyle Hensel, Area Director. 

Consultants at the Savannah SBDC worked with Mr. Johnson to help him determine what it would take to make his dream a reality and to help him overcome obstacles to preparing the site for the construction of the restaurant.  “It has been a pleasure working with the Johnson’s in making their dream a reality,” said Connie Edwards, SBDC Consultant.  “They both have a big appetite for learning the ropes and leaving no stone unturned to ensure they are business savvy,” said Edwards.  Mr. Johnson received advice concerning the start-up process and recordkeeping issues.  The SBDC, an expert in following the formula to business success, time and time again, worked with him extensively to help him complete a loan proposal with startup costs and financial projections to present to potential lenders. 

Like most entrepreneurs, the Johnson’s needed capital to realize their dreams and implement their business plan.  The Johnson’s successfully obtained a SBA 504 loan through the Coastal Area District Development Authority (CADDA) and participating bank BB&T.  The SBA 504 loan program can be used to purchase commercial real estate, as well as major machinery and equipment.  21 Shortstop was built and opened in August 2010.  “21 Short Stop is an excellent example of how a small business can leverage a number of SBA programs to satisfy their need for hands on technical assistance, mentoring from an experienced entrepreneur and financing to launch the project,”  said Terri Denison, District Director, U.S. Small Business Administration. 

As the business has grown, the Johnson’s have continued to use the services of the Savannah SBDC, including developing and implementing effective marketing methods and expanding catering services.  SBDC consultants also introduced Mr. Johnson to a SCORE counselor with extensive experience in public relations who worked with Mr. Johnson to improve his marketing efforts.

Mr. Johnson again returned to the SBDC to receive assistance with expanding the business to include a mobile food truck through which Mr. Johnson now provides food services at the Port of Savannah.  He is currently working on obtaining a second mobile food truck to serve businesses in West Chatham County.

Matt Hicks Owner and Dentist at Moreland Neighborhood Dental

Serving the Community Since 1971

Dr. Matt Hicks had wanted to be a dentist for as long as he can remember. He thinks it may have had something to do with what his Mom told him at a young age; “take care of your teeth or they will fall out of your head.”

Becoming a business owner was not so natural for Matt. After graduating from the Dental program at Oregon Health and Science University in 1997, he went to work for Dr. David Long at Moreland Neighborhood Dental. He happily lived out his dream, working as an associate for the next eight years. But in 2004, Dr. Long laid out the future for him. “I told him, either you buy the practice or you move on,” said Dr. Long. So just like that, Matt began to take over Moreland Neighborhood Dental.

Without any prior business experience, Matt found himself struggling with most aspects of running the practice. “I didn’t know what I was doing,” said Matt. “It was intimidating, so I did what Dr. Long had done for years and things just went along.” The practice continued doing what they do best – providing high-quality personalized dental care to a loyal following of patients.

Moreland Neighborhood Dental has been in the same building since they opened 42 years ago. With a desire to remodel or build a new building, in March 2013, Matt found himself doing some online research about SBA loan programs. “That’s when I saw the information about the Emerging Leaders Program, and thought – that’s just what I need,” said Matt.

The Emerging Leaders Initiative is a federal training initiative that specifically focuses on executives of businesses poised for growth in historically challenged communities. The initiative provides these executives with the organizational framework, resource network, and motivation required to build sustainable businesses and promote economic development within urban communities.

“Emerging Leaders got me to think about the future,” said Matt. “Your business should support your personal goals in life and the course gave me the nuts and bolts to do that. Including little tips, like developing an elevator speech and always having my business card with me. I feel like I’m not just a great dentist now, I’m becoming a great business owner.”

Now, Matt’s planning the practice’s expansion and move through constructing a new building at their same location. Moreland Neighborhood Dental continues to thrive, supporting three dentists, two hygienists, three dental assistants and six administrative office staff and offering expanded office hours five days a week starting at 7 a.m.

For more information about the Emerging Leaders Program or to find out about PDO’s 2014 Class of Emerging Leaders please visit www.sba.gov/OR

Owner of Gingerbread Traditions Cheryl Albers standing with gingerbread houses

Selling Traditional Happiness and Fun

The holiday tradition of building and decorating gingerbread houses inspired crafty Mom, Cheryl Albers, to try her hand at making houses from scratch and throwing decorating parties. Immediately, party and gingerbread house requests started coming in from friends and friends of friends. Cheryl had uncovered a demand, where people not only wanted to continue the holiday tradition, but also wanted fresh, homemade gingerbread that wasn’t just edible, but tastes great. “I truly sell fun,” said Cheryl.  “Young, old, who doesn’t love decorating a gingerbread house?”

The demand for the houses sent Cheryl looking for a place to expand beyond her home kitchen and she landed on Main Street in Oregon City. Gingerbread Traditions, Inc. ran operations from there for eight years. Yet the small footprint provided many challenges, including that pallets had to be loaded and stored outside prior to pick up. In a state known for its rainy weather, this proved to be unpractical.

Now, 15 years after throwing her first party, Cheryl is settled in a 3,200 square foot space with six employees. Over the years Cheryl has morphed her seasonal business into a year round affair. Through developing new products like chocolate gingerbread pirate ships and sugar cookie princess castles and contracting with local schools to produce cookies, the demand for Gingerbread Traditions continues to grow.

Cheryl had visited SBA Resource Partners before for mentoring when she needed help with marketing and determining where to relocate. When Cheryl heard about the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative, she thought it seemed like a great way to figure out what was next for Gingerbread Traditions. Despite having a degree in business and years of experience, Cheryl thought it was time for her to actually step back and work on her business.

The Emerging Leaders Initiative is a federal training initiative that specifically focuses on executives of businesses poised for growth in historically challenged communities. The initiative provides these executives with the organizational framework, resource network, and motivation required to build sustainable businesses and promote economic development within urban communities.

Cheryl’s efforts at working on the business are paying off. Gingerbread Traditions recently fulfilled their biggest wholesale order yet, 80 pallets, which were sent to a chain of hotels across the country. Gingerbread Traditions is seeing a rapid growth in both new wholesale orders and smaller orders from the public. The increase in demand has Cheryl expecting to outsell 2012’s record of 30,000 houses.  

“The Emerging Leaders Program really helped me to evaluate my business from the outside,” said Cheryl. “I’m looking at my business differently now, instead of seeing where it will take me, I can’t wait to see where I can take it next.”

For more information about the Emerging Leaders Program or to find out about PDO’s 2014 Class of Emerging Leaders please visit www.sba.gov/OR