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Veteran Uses SBA Loans and Boots to Business Program to Grow His Business

Situation

  • Will Rivera was an accomplished high school track and cross-country runner in Puerto Rico.
  • Having numerous college scholarship offers, Will instead joined the U.S. Army.
  • While serving his country, he became a certified natural running coach and ultra-marathoner. He also obtained a B.S. Degree in Leadership Management and Human Resources. 
  • Last stationed at Ft. Knox in central Kentucky, Will retired as a First Sergeant after serving honorably for over 24 years.

Solution: How the SBA Helped

  • Will had a dream of turning his fitness passion into a retail store that was a “one stop hub” for running, walking and cross-training.
  • While at Ft, Knox, he attended the Boots to Business entrepreneurial training program and worked with the University of Kentucky SBDC in Elizabethtown.
  • The SBDC helped him develop a business plan and obtain an SBA loan in 2013.
  • The result: a veteran-owned and family-owned business, Running Soles, LLC. Will, wife Madeline, and sons Jonathan and Giovanni work at the store.
  • Because of COVID-19, their business and their employees’ livelihood were at risk. SBA provided an EIDL and EIDL Advance funding as well as a PPP loan from Magnolia Bank to enable them to keep their employees on the payroll.
  • Will said, “PPP and EIDL funds allowed us to make essential payments, like the business mortgage, utilities, insurance and bring our team back on the payroll.”

Successful Impact/ Outcome

  • Running Soles is the first natural/balanced running and walking shoe store in Kentucky and the only specialty running/walking store in the area.
  • Will and his team are laser-focused on providing the best in service, products, people and results. They have developed a superb reputation and skill at organizing running events for the community
  • The store had quickly outgrown its first location. With additional assistance from the SBDC and an SBA loan, Will purchased a building in the town center.
  • The larger facility includes meeting space and more room for more inventory.
  • Running Soles has regular running/walking clinics and workshops. They also host nutritionists, physical therapists and medical and athletic experts.
  • Will was the 2018 Hardin County Veteran Owned Business of the Year and the SBA 2019 Kentucky Veteran Owned Small Business of the Year.
  • He serves on the Hardin County Museum Board. Will regularly develops and organizes regional running clubs and events and often speaks about his commitment to community health and fitness.
Company Name: 
Running Soles, LLC
Location: 
Elizabethtown, KY