“They are the reason why I was able to start my business.”

Lewis & Clark Development Group and North Country Vet Clinic of Turtle Lake have been honored with the 2019 Governor’s Choice Economic Development Award Project – Rural Community.

 Governor Doug Burgum chose the project from several nominations submitted to the Economic Development Association of North Dakota (EDND). The project was selected in recognition of LCD Group’s work in assisting Dr. Andrea Schlafmann in the purchase and upgrading of her new veterinary practice.

Coming Home, Meeting a Demand
Veterinary services are in high demand throughout central North Dakota. Producers and pet owners experience delays in service and, in many cases, have to travel several miles to receive medical care for their livestock or pets.

After receiving her Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine, Schlafmann, a native of Mercer, returned home to the Turtle Lake area with her husband to meet these demands. After more than three years working for another clinic, Schlafmann decided to open her own practice but was daunted by the task of securing funding to purchase an existing property and transforming it into a veterinary facility.

 
“Owning my own vet clinic has long been a dream of mine. But, like so many new small business owners, I was overwhelmed at the money required to launch my business,” said Dr. Schlafmann. “Student loans and the costs of operating a farm and ranch were major challenges for my husband and I to overcome as I looked at starting my clinic.”
 
Making Her Vision a Reality
Dr. Schlafmann worked with the Bank of Turtle Lake to help finance her new business, which in turn, worked with LCD Group to provide additional financing.

LCD Group approved a loan through the North Dakota Opportunity Fund, which provided interim financing for Schlafmann to purchase and upgrade a building that once housed a construction firm. LCD Group also provided long-term project financing through the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 504 Loan program. 
 
LCD Group manages the North Dakota Opportunity Fund, which leverages private lending financing to help small businesses attain loans and investments to expand and create jobs throughout North Dakota. The Fund is used to finance construction, secure working capital, and purchase real estate and equipment.

The SBA 504 Loan program provides small businesses with fixed-rate financing for the purchase of long-term assets, such as buildings, land, equipment, and renovation projects. The loan is made in conjunction with the borrower’s local financial institution, which provides a first mortgage for up to 50 percent of the project cost. Described as a ‘win-win-win’ for small businesses, communities, and participating lenders, the SBA 504 Loan is one of the most effective – and popular – economic development programs in existence.
 
In the case of North Country Vet Clinic, these programs allowed Dr. Schlafmann to convert the building into a fully operational veterinary clinic complete with a surgery room and separate cattle treatment facility. The funds also helped purchase two hydraulic chutes, a horse stock, bloodwork machines, X-ray and surgical equipment.
 
“Lewis & Clark Development Group’s staff assisted me in planning my business and provided options that would not have been available to me otherwise. As far as I am concerned, they are the reason why I was able to start my new business,” adds Dr. Schlafmann.

Why Lewis & Clark Development Group Exists
“Every project is unique and this particular project especially aligns well with the purpose of the Main Street Initiative, says LCD Group Executive Director Brent Ekstrom.

“We were able to assist in the creation of a new business that utilized existing infrastructure, has created new jobs, and is providing an essential service to the community and surrounding region.”

Ekstrom notes  that this project is exactly why Lewis & Clark Development exists. 

“We’re here to help entrepreneurs like Dr. Schlafmann launch their small businesses. While it is always nice to be recognized for the work we do, we ultimately measure our success by the success of our clients. And I’m happy to have LCD Group judged based on what Dr. Schlafmann has already created for herself and her community.”

Top Photo: Governor Doug Burgum (left) and Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford (right) formally present the ‘Governor’s Choice Award’ to (from left to right) LCD Group Executive Director Brent Ekstorm, Dr. Andrea Schlafmann, and LCD Group Commercial Lending Director Matt Burthold.