Special loans help in emergencies

Memories. The happy memories of people shopping, and families walking downtown on Broughton Street on a sultry Savannah afternoon. Those memories were the inspiration for Ruel Joyner to return to the nearly unoccupied Broughton Street. Ruel had a vision to take his father’s rent-to own furniture store and transform it into a unique wholesale modern furniture store.

When asked “Why Broughton Street?” Ruel candidly responded, “The opportunity was there. It just needed people and businesses to see the future of Broughton Street as full of small businesses, entrepreneurs and shoppers.”

By 2004, 24e. had many neighbors on Broughton Street and the G-8 conference attendees held the promise of a 24e-2nd-floor-roompotential boost to sales. They bought inventory, prepared special window displays and launched marketing campaigns to attract the worldly visitors. All of this expense and preparation went awry when security cordoned off Broughton and surrounding areas. The small businesses expecting the world were now essentially shut down.

The Small Business Assistance Corporation in conjunction with the City of Savannah created a temporary loan program to help these businesses access capital quickly during the unexpected turn of events. “This loan program was fairly easy. We wanted to make it so these folks could receive the capital they needed during that specific timeframe,” stated Tony O’Reilly, SBAC President. “We can collaborate with the City of Savannah on special short-term loan programs to assist and sustain economic development. After the G-8, Ellis Square renovation began and there were businesses affected by the necessary traffic rerouting. It was a trickier situation, however these small boutiques and businesses work to shape the economy of Savannah. The SBAC has the ability to do what a traditional banking institution cannot- flex and create assistance for the situations that arise in our local economy.”

“I found out about this special program from Lisa Sundrla at the SDRA. She pointed me to the Small Business Assistance Corporation. The whole thing from start to finish was simple and effective,” stated Ruel Joyner. 24e. Furnishings and over 20 other businesses in the security zone benefitted from this short-term loan program.

So, what is Ruel Joyner’s advice to entrepreneurs before they have to face the unexpected?
• Do a business plan; revise it regularly and then..do it again.
• Numbers are the ‘name of the game’ -if you aren’t great at it; find someone who is.
• Find a local bank – it’s about the relationship. You will need someone who knows your name, your business and your neighborhood.
• Hard work.
• Utilize the many great resources in Savannah – the Downtown Business Association, the SDRA, the SBAC. There’s strength in numbers!