We certainly do not want to get ahead of ourselves, but we in the Nevada small business community are hoping that the worst of the pandemic is in the rear-view mirror and better times lie ahead.
At Nevada State Development Corp., which operates as both a nonprofit and a small business itself, our optimistic outlook is not driven by blind hope. Instead, it is influenced by fiscal year-over-fiscal year data, by watching the way our small business clients have adjusted to the unprecedented challenges of the past year, and by a reliance on old-fashioned American ingenuity.
As the state’s largest provider of U.S. Small Business Administration 504 loans, we service more than 500 small businesses across the state of Nevada. When the pandemic hit and inflicted so much pain and havoc, we were worried about all of our small businesses.
Many of them, in fact, were in a precarious transition period where the banks had completed their side of the funding for an SBA 504 loan and we were in the process of putting the wraps on the SBA portion to finalize a finance package.
For example, our small business client AV Vegas, a family-owned events production company headquartered on S. Arville Street, was in precisely this situation. Companies in their field, which by definition rely on events such as concerts and shows where large numbers of people gather in person, were among those hardest hit by the shutdown.
It was inspiring to see the innovative and resourceful manner in which AV Vegas responded. Pivoting from their proven expertise in putting on major live events with big crowds, John and Ty Hansen and the rest of the team at AV Vegas repurposed their Las Vegas facility into a “virtual sound stage” and hosted a series of rock concerts that were live-streamed on the internet rather than performed for an in-house live audience. Not only did this solution allow the business to put its otherwise-dormant venue back into action, but it also gave a much-needed boost to local musicians and stage personnel during a period of down time.
Meanwhile, the government stepped in with some emergency programs, a positive development that helped many of these companies. For instance, the SBA allowed for delayed payments for an extended period of time, which was advantageous for the businesses affected. It also allowed us to move forward with funding their loans during a stretch of time that would otherwise have been labeled a period of “adverse change” — meaning these loans would not have been funded as originally planned. Remember, particularly during the peak of the pandemic, many small businesses were flat-out shutting down. So their financials weren’t looking as strong as they were when the loan was first approved.
The policies and procedures the government put into place, however, allowed these companies to buy some time, it allowed us to go ahead and fund the loan, and in many cases we were even able to defer some payments in order to assist these companies in moving forward.
Watching these small business owners, like those at AV Vegas, regroup, respond and forge ahead has been nothing short of remarkable. They essentially took stock of their assets and their resources. Then, they had to figure out how to employ those assets and resources in order to string things together until the situation turned around.
At the heart of the issue is jobs for Nevadans. The cornerstone of our mission is job creation in the state. One of the stated goals of the SBA 504 loan program is to have one job created for every $75,000 in venture funds that we put out there. So if we do a $750,000 project, for example, one of the major goals would be to ensure at least 10 jobs are created as a result.
While the pandemic has obviously been detrimental to our employment situation, we cannot overlook the resiliency of small businesses in Nevada. Our volume actually picked up toward the end of our fiscal year, which concluded September 30. We completed 65 loan approvals last year, while typically we do about 50.
We are seeing a lot of businesses that are growing and that are looking to acquire their own properties. Interest rates are way down: We are funding at about 2.75 percent right now, which is almost unheard-of.
It is truly a testament to the American spirit, the way that AV Vegas and other small businesses have been able to find another way to keep the ball rolling until things return to a semblance of normalcy.
Evan Dickson is the president of Nevada State Development Corp., a nonprofit company that is a large SBA 504 loan provider in Nevada, with offices in Las Vegas and Reno. Established in 1981, NSDC has funded more than 1,721 loans with an estimated combined value of $780 million, creating more than 19,000 jobs. NSDC was named the Platinum SBA 504 Lender for the state of Nevada by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). For further information, and to obtain on online application, business owners can visit www.nsdc.com.