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One of the biggest challenges you face as a business owner, next to starting your own business, is taking it to the next level.

As a seasoned entrepreneur who has successfully navigated around the pitfalls that cause early business failure, you’re ready to grow, then financing your continued growth becomes an issue.

Enter the SBA 504 loan program, especially designed to help small businesses at this juncture.

Also called the Certified Development Company/504 Program, this is a long-term financing tool for economic development within a community. It provides growing businesses with long-term, fixed-rate financing for major fixed assets, such as land, buildings and machinery and equipment.

CDCs are nonprofit corporations set up to contribute to the economic development of their communities. They work with the SBA and private-sector lenders to provide financing to small businesses.

A 504 refinancing project has three components: a direct commercial loan from the private sector covering 50 percent of the project, and secured by a senior lien; a loan secured with a junior lien from the CDC covering up to 40 percent of the cost, and backed by a 100 percent SBA-guaranteed debenture; and a contribution of at least 10 percent equity from your business.

This type of SBA loan has some specific requirements that businesses have to meet in order to qualify. They have to meet job creation criteria or a c