SBA loan gives Hyde Park animal clinic new life

Filed under Financial, Neighborhood News, News

When the Hyde Park Animal Clinic was forced to move after losing its longtime home in Harper Court following the mall’s sale to the University of Chicago several years ago, its owner, Dr. Thomas Wake, decided he needed a permanent space for his business.

After obtaining tax-increment financing funds from the city to remodel a leased space at 1363 E. 53rd St. to serve his clients in Chicago’s Hyde Park, he set his sights on a permanent facility on vacant space in the 6900 block of Stony Island Avenue on the city’s South Side.

Although Wake said it had been 20 or 25 years since he had applied for a Small Business Administration loan, he turned to the SBA for a 504 loan. He said he was helped in the process by SomerCor504, a non-profit group that helps for-profit businesses with project financing.

According to SBA, more small businesses are turning to the agency this year. The SBA’s growth capital program increased 23 percent in fiscal year 2010, ended Sept. 30, providing a record $1.59 billion to help small businesses grow.

Filling a Gap

“At a time when access to capital was tight, including from the traditional sources for growth capital, SBA helped fill some of that gap with a record amount of financing through our SBIC program,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills in a statement. SBICs are privately-owned and managed investment firms licensed and regulated by SBA.

SBICs use a combination of funds raised from private sources and money raised through the use of SBA guarantees to make equity and mezzanine capital investments in small businesses.

Worth the Wait

The wait for approval for his loan took longer than he anticipated, Wake said, partly because he waited for the release of funds under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

However, “I don’t have a lot of patience for people who complain about the paperwork needed for a SBA loan,” Wake said. “I’ve had a couple of (home) mortgages, and the banks sure asked for a lot of paperwork” for those.

And the outcome will be a welcome addition for neighborhood pet owners. Hyde Park Animal Clinic’s new hospital, estimated by Wake at $1.7 million, is expected to be finished by February.

For more information about the SBA’s Investment Division and SBIC program, go to www.sba.gov/INV or call 1-800-U ASK SBA. For a list of top SBA lenders, see the Resources section of SmallBizChicago.com.

— Suzanne Cosgrove

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