Growing Winter Park as a Vibrant Small Business Incubator, One Microloan at a Time
BankFIRST started the Winter Park Microloan Program in association with the City of Winter Park. Created to help offset risk for small business in the area, Microloans “lower the bar” by reducing loan fees and allowing more funding options for entrepreneurs. The result has been a boom in small, locally owned ventures in the city – creating a vibrant community of retailers, services and restaurants.
“Last year towards the end of the buildout of our restaurant, Scratch Tapas, we encountered a few unexpected problems that rendered our funds depleted. We discovered that The City of Winter Park had a micro loan program through BankFIRST. We were also encouraged to go visit the bank from our SCORE advisor Dan Burnight. We applied and were approved through the Cities Microloan program, and met John Casebier. As a restaurant in buildout phase, nobody would give us a second thought. However, John, and Aldo Ahlers our case officer, bent over backwards to help us receive the necessary funds through the loan program. Aldo helped us through every step of the process, and made the loan one of the easiest parts of our buildout. As a result, we were able to open our doors in late November, and have become quite successful. None of this would have been possible without John and Aldo. Now, when we walk into BankFIRST, everyone is extremely polite and they even know our names. Whether it be Aldo, John, Frances, Anelia or Ashley, they make banking a pleasure. It is obvious that customer service is at the top of their goals, and they excel at bringing a small town feel to the banking experience, which is rare. At BankFIRST, you are way more than just an account number.”
Owner, Operations Director/Partner
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