Winooski partners with Opportunities Credit Union to support small business needs
As spring approaches, the city of Winooski and its business owners are experiencing new possibilities. Greg Huysman, Senior Business Development Manager at Opportunities Credit Union, and the City of Winooski, recently signed off on the Winooski Small Business Loan Program (WSBLP), where the city placed $250,000 at Opportunities to help facilitate small business lending to Winooski-based businesses. Thanks to this program, Winooski business owners will have funds available for a variety of purposes to keep their operations running smoothly.
Opportunities is more than just a financial institution to the residents and businesses of Winooski…
The WSBLP offers small loans of under $100,000 to businesses that have a financial gap to fill. This could be anything from fixing a leaky roof, to repairing old equipment, to ensuring that any surprises during an inspection are taken care of. “It is a fund that will be accessible to businesses to meet emergencies and other needs that arise so that they can continue to do business in a profitable manner,” said Huysman. It can also be used to help businesses looking to get started in Winooski. There is no qualification for a business to apply for this program other than being based in Winooski.
In this year’s budget, the City of Winooski is also proposing to add a Community and Economic Development position to help facilitate the program. “This fund can be used as a tool in his or her toolbox to assist businesses with things that might pop up,” said Huysman. “The fund could be used for things of the emergent nature or it could be just something that they need to finance and this could be one method that they use,” said Huysman.
With a growing economy full of unique businesses, Winooski saw Opportunities Credit Union as the perfect place to leverage the funds it had earmarked for economic development. Specializing in small business development, Greg Huysman has the experience and the infrastructure through Opportunities to pull off such a program.
“Luckily for us we can provide lending all across the board,” said Greg Huysman. “We have the structure to be able to take loans in, close them, and service businesses down the road.”
According to Mayor, Seth Leonard, Opportunities “offers businesses in Winooski an innovative and affordable financing option to stabilize, start, or grow their business in the community”.
“We’ve always had a long, positive history with the city of Winooski,” said Huysman.
Having done commercial loans with the city in the past, Huysman was approached by the City to talk about doing something on the business end of the spectrum, which is new territory for the city.
Huysman said that working with the City of Winooski on this project was a great experience. “Winooski’s City Council and staff always knew exactly what we did, and when thinking about what Winooski wanted to do in terms of business development, they knew that Opportunities would be a natural partner,” said Huysman.
“Opportunities is more than just a financial institution to the residents and businesses of Winooski,” Leonard added. “They are an integral part of building strong neighborhoods and a vibrant business community in our city.”
They’re going to be the conduit. The city will refer businesses to Opportunities and then we’ll put it through our program.
This is a great example of how Opportunities partners with Vermont cities to increase access of much needed capital for small businesses. Huysman takes pride in building relationships like these while helping the local economy to thrive.
“I’ve always loved working with businesses and allowing them to achieve their goals and realize their dreams,” he said. “It’s always a great part of my job satisfaction to be able to see that from the beginning through to the end and see their success down the road.”
“The nice thing about Opportunities is that we’re mission-based and we’re there to fill the gap,” Huysman said. “This allows us to be able to focus on doing unique types of lending while using tools that are available to the Small Business Administration (SBA) and setting up working relationships with partners that can help mitigate some of the risk that traditional banks face. It’s nice having flexibility to be able to see a startup idea begin and be able to fund it and see it grow into a success down the road.”
City funds came from several sources designated for economic development to grow the community. Opportunities was already certified by the state to service loan pools for towns and cities. “It’s a small, unique field to be in,” said Huysman. “It takes a certain amount of expertise, knowledge, loan servicing, regulations, and having the internal infrastructure to pull it off. Not everyone is a good fit to be able to do it.”
Having just signed the bill a few short weeks ago, Huysman says that business owners have already approached him with interest. “There are definitely a couple of businesses that I think will be first to use the fund,” he said.
The first step for any Winooski business to take advantage of the WSBLP is to contact the city directly. Winooski City Staff are in the process of creating policies and procedures for assisting applicants. “They’re going to be the conduit,” said Huysman. “The city will refer businesses to Opportunities and then we’ll put it through our program.”
The WSBLP is just one of many unique partnerships Opportunities Credit Union takes part in. To learn more about the unique funds and loan offerings our credit union provides, click the button below: