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‘The 504 Company,’ PNC Bank Provide SBA-backed Financing to Keep Philadelphia’s ‘Wine School’ Doors Open

Philadelphia Firm Successfully Leverages SBA 504 Loan Program to Purchase Building
Release Date: 
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Release Number: 
Robert Goza | (610) 382-3084

PHILADELPHIA– The Wine School of Philadelphia, founded by Keith Wallace, is dedicated to providing top-tier instruction in wine, beer, and cooking to both professionals and the general public. However, while running his successful business, Wallace faced a pressing challenge. His landlord informed Wallace that he was selling the building, which meant rent would increase significantly or he would be forced to relocate.

Wallace began looking into a loan to buy the building himself and was referred by PNC Bank for SBA 504 financing with SBA-certified development corporation ‘The 504 Company.’  The 504 Company and PNC Bank helped Wallace obtain an SBA 504 Program loan that allowed him to purchase the building and keep the Wine School in business. SBA’s 504 Loan Program provides long-term financing to small businesses for the purchase or improvement of land, buildings, and major equipment, to facilitate the creation or retention of jobs and to support local economic development. Under the program, loans are made in conjunction with private-sector lenders to small businesses by Certified Development Companies (“CDCs”), which are certified and regulated by SBA to promote economic development within their community.

"I spent months shopping around online for a business loan. But I wanted longer terms and lower monthly payments than what I was finding," said Wine School founder and owner Wallace. "Then I talked with my PNC banker who referred me to the SBA 504 program. Working with The 504 Company streamlined the process, which allowed me to preserve and expand my business. I am grateful to both organizations for their support and look forward to a continued relationship. We now employ three full-time staff and six part-time instructors. Thanks to the SBA loan, the school is now building out more classrooms and we expect to double our staffing by 2020."

“Helping America’s small businesses grow and thrive is our mission at SBA. We recognize that it is the millions of small businesses, including the Wine School, that strengthen the American economy and create jobs,” said SBA’s Eastern Pennsylvania Deputy Director Michael Kane. “Certified Development Companies like The 504 Company and lenders like PNC Bank, working with SBA programs, are a powerful way for small businesses to obtain the financing necessary to take vitally important steps to grow their business.”

“For Keith and The Wine School, it was clear that the SBA 504 program aligned perfectly with his goals and afforded him the ability to achieve them more easily. Keith sought to put less money down on the purchase and to go out further on a fixed rate term in order to preserve capital and mitigate the risk of a potentially higher rate in the future,” said PNC Bank SBA Finance Group Vice President Zoe Combs. “The 504 Company reflects the same values as PNC, in doing what is right by customer and making the experience easier.”

Before he opened the Wine School, Wallace previously worked as a journalist, executive chef, and winemaker. He first got a taste of entrepreneurship while working as an independent wine consultant and knew he wanted to run his own business. In 2001, he was inspired to bring wine education to the public and opened the Wine School. He’s since grown the school into the most influential independent wine school in the United States.

“After Keith finally found the ideal location for the Wine School, he knew purchasing the building was a great investment for the future,” said Ashley Heaton, Vice President and Eastern PA and Southern NJ Market Manager for The 504 Company. “Keith told his banker that he was interested in a loan that would offer a fixed rate with little money down and PNC immediately knew the SBA 504 program was a perfect fit. We appreciate partners like PNC Bank that find value in The 504 Company, as we are both committed to helping small business owners achieve their goals.”


To request interviews or photos, contact Robert Goza, SBA’s Public Information Officer in the Eastern Pennsylvania District Office, at or 610-382-3084.

About the U.S. Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start and grow their businesses. It delivers services to people through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit

About The 504 Company

The 504 Company is a leading provider of alternative financing in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. By working with our lending partners to provide small businesses ranging from start-ups in underserved markets to seasoned businesses with the capital needed start or grow, The 504 Company promotes economic development and job creation. Learn more at