Nevada Opportunity Fund provides small businesses with funding

For three years, John Pinnington has dreamed of one thing: expanding his printing business. Many of the customers who come to AA Printing in Las Vegas for signs, pamphlets and documents also ask to have their company name and logo printed on a T-shirt. For years, he had to refer T-shirt customers somewhere else. He hated the fact that those extra dollars were going out the door and to some other business.

But Pinnington thought he had no choice. His business, which started in 2010, didn’t have the means to purchase the necessary T-shirt-printing equipment, the inventory, signage and other costs associated with adding those services. Even worse, Pinnington was well aware he wouldn’t qualify for a conventional small business loan. Although his printing business started during the economic downturn and it survived, he did have a personal bankruptcy, which would affect his ability to get a loan.

Despite an improving economy in Nevada, there are many small businesses that face circumstances just like Pinnington. They can’t grow without access to capital. A high number of these businesses are also minority and/or women-owned.

That’s why the Nevada Opportunity Fund was created during the last legislative session to help provide these small business owners access to funding.

Senate Bill 126, sponsored by Sen. Aaron Ford, and signed by Gov. Brian Sandoval, created the Nevada Opportunity Fund. One million dollars of state funds were set aside and are available through the Governor’s Office of Economic Development to assist businesses unable to meet conventional small business loan qualifications. This includes small business owners with low credit scores, a past bankruptcy or other related issues. Many organizations, including the Urban, Latin, Asian and Women’s chambers supported SB 126 to help small business owners in need of capital.

This April, Pinnington was the first small business owner to receive a loan from the Nevada Opportunity Fund. He submitted a loan application and within weeks he was approved. As a result, he was able to purchase T-shirt-printing equipment, inventory, signage and has created a website for his new businesses. His goal is to hire three new employees.

Existing businesses like Pinnington’s can qualify for up to $50,000 unsecured and a $100,000 secured loan. Startup businesses are limited to $25,000. The repayment terms range from three to five years.

All loan applications are reviewed by a team of underwriters. Bank of Nevada applied for and was awarded the position of administrator of the Nevada Opportunity Fund and I am part of the team that reviews each application to determine loan viability.

If you are a small business owner that doesn’t meet the requirements needed for conventional loan products, I encourage you to learn more about the Nevada Opportunity Fund and how it may be able to help you. Please email me your questions or concerns at

All small businesses deserve to share in our state’s growing prosperity. The Nevada Opportunity Fund is one small program to help get us there, as well as help small business owners, like John, succeed.

Jerrie Merritt is senior vice president, community development manager at Bank of Nevada. She has assisted businesses of all shapes and sizes with loan products for more than 20 years. Bank of Nevada is a division of Western Alliance Bank, Member FDIC.

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