One of Mandan’s oldest family-owned small businesses and one of its newest dining establishments have received funding from Lewis & Clark Regional Development Council’s Small Business Pandemic Recovery Revolving Loan Fund.
Helping meet new demands
Hirsch Florist has been a staple of the Mandan business community since 1958. Owner Al Kuntz is second generation to own his family’s business. Kuntz has seen economic fluctuations throughout his 17 years as owner but the COVID-19 pandemic is unlike anything he and other small business owners have experienced.
Our foot traffic and walk-ins really slowed down. Some days it almost stopped completely,” adds Kuntz who says they adjusted their approach and added new inventory to draw in customers.
“We have brought in more Pride of Dakota products, have added some metal artwork pieces, and are offering more deals to get people to come into the store and shop with us online,” Kuntz said.
“So many people are now shopping online so we are accommodating them with special deals and delivery.”
Kuntz says Hirsch Florist is using the Small Business Pandemic Recovery Revolving Loan Fund to purchase Christmas inventory and purchase a new vehicle to meet increased delivery demand.
Helping to keep the business open
The Paddle Trap opened earlier this spring, at the beginning of the pandemic. For the restaurant, which had previously been operated as Captain Freddy’s, the timing was – to state the obvious – less than ideal.
During the summer months, The Paddle Trap’s major advantage was its ability to serve outdoors. Now, with winter approaching, and new state public health restrictions in place to try to slow the spread of the virus, the restaurant is relying heavily on takeout orders to keep the business going.
“These funds are absolutely vital in keeping our business open during these tough times,” says Michelle Kaufman, co-owner of The Paddle Trap.
“We will use our loan to cover rent, payroll, utilities and other overhead expenses. We are facing the same challenges as most restaurants right now except that we have the added challenge of being a startup on top of the business decline caused by COVID-19.”
Kaufman says their on-site sales are far lower than their expectations when we started the business and are not enough to cover our fixed expenses at this time. The Paddle Trap is offering pick-up and delivery but Kaufman says the business is still new to the community and many don’t yet know about them.
“The pandemic interrupted our plans to advertise and market. We have loyal customers and have benefited from word-0f-mouth but not enough people know about us yet,” Kaufman notes.
“When we asked our bank for a loan to help us get through this rough patch, our loan officer said that they couldn’t help us, but Lewis and Clark likely could. As soon as we reached out to Matt he had the ball rolling and we had the funds we needed in a matter of a few short weeks. The process was easy and quick. We are so grateful for their assistance. We might not still be here without it,” says Kaufman.
About the Revolving Loan Fund
Earlier this fall, Lewis & Clark RDC received an investment award of $1,133,000 to capitalize a Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) to lend to small businesses adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in Burleigh, Emmons, Grant, Kidder, McLean, Mercer, Morton, Oliver, Sheridan, and Sioux counties.
Lewis & Clark RDC, which is part of the Lewis & Clark Development Group, is the federally designated Economic Development District for the ten-county region. The investment by the U.S. Economic Development Agency (EDA) is part of the federal CARES Act Recovery Assistance.
With the new Small Business Pandemic Recovery RLF, Lewis & Clark RDC is able to provide small business loans aimed at:
1) Alleviating the sudden and severe dislocation caused by the pandemic;
2) Offering permanent resources to support economic resiliency;
3) And furthering the long-term economic adjustment objectives within the region.
“The RLF was created to allow us to help small businesses, like Hirsch Florist and The Paddle Trap, navigate the uncertainties caused by this pandemic,” says Matt Burthold, LCD Group commercial lending director.
Lewis & Clark Development Group encourages everyone to support Hirsch Florist, The Paddle Trap, and all local small businesses during these difficult times.
Business interested in learning more about this critical RLF are encouraged to contact Burthold directly at (701) 667-7601 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.