Revolving Loan Fund: A Lending Hand to Small Businesses

Through the years, our Revolving Loan Fund has provided loans to help develop and expand local small businesses. It is a self-replenishing pool of money, using interest and principal payments on existing loans to issue new ones.

Since its inception, the fund has made 17 loans totaling $2,014,349. One recent recipient is Third Day Creations of Hermiston.

In starting her business to sell promotional business products and gifts, Dani Smith’s mission was clear from the beginning – sink or swim.

Working as a bookkeeper, wanting to further provide for her family, Dani recalls the idea first came when she saw a device at a trade show that imprinted promotional messages onto materials and products. To demonstrate it could handle anything, it was printing on a walnut.

With a job, a husband and four daughters already among of her life responsibilities, Dani dove in on starting a business from scratch. On her Fridays off, she set out knocking on doors in Hermiston, Boardman, Pendleton and the Tri-Cities. She wouldn’t return home before making 20 contacts. “I didn’t know how to drum up business any other way.”

Eventually, she made her first sale – sports bottles to a fitness center in Pendleton. Another memorable day came when she had generated enough money in her business account to prepay a vendor to fill a customer’s order.

As her business grew, the challenges came. She had to borrow money to buy an embroidery machine when the Pendleton prison ended its low-cost service. Through the years, she has invested in equipment to expand and improve her service and selection. She now has customers throughout the region and beyond.

Last year during the pandemic, the opportunity arose to increase revenues and customer service by buying a similar business in Moses Lake.

When considering options of obtaining a loan to buy the business, it was providence, she says, that she received a courtesy visit from the Hermiston Chamber and UEC Business Resource Center staff.

During the visit, Dani mentioned her acquisition plans and that she would be seeking lending options. She learned she might benefit from UEC’s Revolving Loan Fund. “It was totally new to me,” she recalls. Soon she met with Greg Smith, whose company administrates the fund for UEC.

She learned the loan fund offered an interest rate “better by far” than her other options, and that her business would be a perfect fit for the fund’s goal of promoting development in rural communities.

“I didn’t feel it was just a loan,” Dani said. “Greg had insight and advice. I felt like I was being supported.” The sale successfully closed on the Moses Lake business last fall.

Dani’s advice for someone starting small in a home-based business? “Plan on working hard from the beginning. Be dressed and ready by 8 a.m. and spend the full day at it.”

More information on UEC’s Revolving Loan Fund is available online or call the UEC Business Center at (541) 289-3000.