Nonprofit assists local entrepreneurs
By Angie Landsverk
As Bonnie Timm worked to start her new business, she struggled to put together the financing for it.
“It’s a big project for a single individual,” she said.
Timm mentioned this to Sheila Stuyvenberg, who has been one of her customers for years.
Stuyvenberg is the senior vice president of commercial products/treasury management in Hometown Bank’s Wautoma office.
She recommended that Timm contact Jody Jansen, who is the senior vice president of commercial banking in that same office.
Timm soon talked to Jansen, who also introduced her to CAP Services Inc. and the assistance it provides to the owners of small businesses.
Late last summer, Timm began working with Hometown Bank and CAP Services, and by mid November, she broke ground on her 1,944-square-foot florist and gift shop.
She opened Bonnie’s Bloomers last May at 200 Foxfire Drive, beginning with a seasonal greenhouse.
Timm received a construction loan for the latest part of her project from Hometown Bank and a secondary loan from CAP Services to supply the inventory for the store.
She planned to open it on April 1.
In the wake of the Feb. 3 fire that destroyed that building, Hometown Bank and CAP Services are doing whatever they can to help Timm.
“CAP Services Inc. will be a point of reference and support for Bonnie to help her through the rebuilding process. We are all here to help Bonnie find solutions that work through this difficult time because we care about Bonnie, not just the business,” said Kitty Johnson, who is a business development specialist in CAP Services’ Appleton office.
Jansen said, “Hometown Bank is supporting Bonnie and her family during this challenging time, and we are confident that the project will be a success going forward. We view this as only a temporary setback and continue to be excited about the opportunities Bonnie has in front of her.”
Assisting small businesses
CAP Services is a private, nonprofit corporation, headquartered in Stevens Point.
Since 1966, it has offered programs in Marquette, Outagamie, Portage, Waupaca and Waushara counties.
Small business assistance is just one of the nearly three dozen programs it offers as it works to transform people and communities.
Johnson said CAP Services primarily started its Business Development Program to assist entrepreneurs in writing business plans and forecasting their financial projections.
It was basically helping them get ready to go to the bank, she said.
When the program began, those CAP Services worked with had to be of low to moderate income.
Around 2012, it received funding from the the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) for business development in rural areas.
The focus was on microlending up to $50,000, with no income requirement, Johnson said.
That opened up who they were able to work with in the area, she said.
About a year later, CAP Services became a Small Business Administration (SBA) microlender.
“Both funds are set up so we have loan funds and technical assistance dollars,” said Laura West, who is the vice president of business development in CAP Services’ Stevens Point office.
She said the technical assistance piece is crucial as “small borrowers need all the help they can get.”
CAP Services’ technical assistance services are free to lower to moderate income individuals wanting to start a business or expand a business, said Johnson.
Those services are also free to business owners looking to add economic growth or job creation for low to moderate income individuals in the communities CAP serves, she said.
Johnson said CAP Services works closely with county economic development corporations, chambers of commerce, municipalities, lenders and small business development organizations.
Collaboration is important, she said.
“A lot of organizations provide something to the client, mostly on a free or reduced cost basis,” West said.
She said each community CAP Services works with has something different.
CAP works with revolving funds and may be a primary lender or a secondary lender – providing gap financing a small business owner needs, West said.
“We can do $5,000, $10,000, $20,000 deals when someone wants to start a small mom and pop shop. Sometimes they stay small. Other times, they will grow and seek a large loan from a bank,” she said.
CAP works with banks, even if the small business owner does not have a loan with one.
These business owners need such things as checking accounts and lines of credits from their local banks.
As small business owners pay the loans they receive through CAP, those dollars return to CAP Services’ revolving fund, allowing such funds to continue to be available to others.
Johnson appreciates there are community banks like Hometown Bank to partner with on local projects.
Of Timm’s project, she said, “It’s a nice business to bring to Waupaca.”
Timm loves the site of her new business, with its access off a heavily traveled State Highway 54 and location next to Waupaca Ale House.
She has 15 years of experience in the business.
Timm has a degree in horticulture and landscape design and in 2002, opened Silver Mist with her former husband, Dennis Timm.
He continues to run that business.
Timm sees their separate businesses as complementing each other and said they are building them for their two young daughters: 10-year-old Sienna and 7-year-old Aspen.
“We’re cultivating a future for our daughters,” Timm said.
That is part of the reason why she decided to diversify her business and add the florist shop to make it a year round business.
Jansen said Hometown Bank is one of the largest SBA lenders in Wisconsin.
“This project fit right in with a lot of the projects we do,” he said. “We partner with CAP on many projects. They provide an important need for small businesses.”
Johnson in CAP’s Appleton office (920-209-1384) and Jean Cook in its Stevens Point office (715-343-7138) both serve Waupaca County.
In addition to Bonnie’s Bloomers, other recent projects involving CAP Services include Carousel Gymnastics and Waupaca Machine & Repair.
Tiffany Losinski, of Carousel Gymnastics, contacted Johnson in the summer of 2015 to talk about her interest in expanding the business by adding a second location in Waupaca.
“They were a great client to work with. There are so many years of business knowledge,” Johnson said. “Tiffany has a good mind for business. She did a good job on the business plan.”
Johnson said Losinski was also careful to not get in over her head.
“When you’re being reasonable and looking at everything, it takes longer,” Johnson said. “Her bank referred her to us. The groundbreaking was last October, and it should be open by the end of February.”
CAP provided a secondary loan for that project.
Matt Grunwald was referred to CAP by the Small Business Development Corporation.
“He had a business plan worked on already,” Johnson said. “We had to help him maneuver through the acquisition process.”
CAP Services partnered with the Waupaca County Economic Development Corporation to be the senior lender, she said.
Johnson said CAP may loan anywhere from $500 to $1 million.
“The reason we have to be like that,” she said, “is because some clients come to us, and they have a great idea. We have to meet them where they’re at.”
Clients may start with a $500 or $1,000 budget, beginning in their homes or in a small space, Johnson said.
“Then, maybe 12 months later, they need another small loan to buy another piece of equipment,” she said.
West said collateral is required to secure a loan with CAP.
“We make them understand they can’t always start big,” she said.
Cash flow is part of the conversation.
“We need to see they can support the business and themselves,” West said. “If not, we have to look at if from a different angle.”
Johnson said the goal is to help create a living wage income for themselves.
CAP Services measures whether it is meeting or exceeding its goals.
“We have a strong team,” Johnson said. “We all have different backgrounds, strengths.”