Hotel room expansion and renovation projects spread across the regionWhen times are tough in the business world, travel budgets are among the first things many companies slash. But when the good times return, those budgets start creeping valium generic up.With the business climate definitely on the warming side, the area is experiencing an upswing in hotel there and construction. But as the hospitality industry moves to meet existing demand, the very act of creating new spaces for business to meet and exhibit cheap valium itself. Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale.
In Orange, the Marriott Corp. has built a new 121-room Courtyard by Marriott. In Shelton, Ramada is building a 140-room AmeriSuite hotel and contemplating adding another 3,000 to 4,000 square feet of meeting space to its existing Ramada Plaza. IniSuite hotel across the street.
Waterbury has seen $7 million poured into two major hotels in the past two years: $3 million to turn the former downtown Holiday Inn into a Courtyard by Marriott, and $4 million to overhaul the Sheraton Four Points.
Courtyard General Manager Michael Adams says that the 200-room facility, located near the new Brass Center Mall, caters principally to business clients. The hotel is has 7,000 square feet of space available for business meetings. An continuing project to dismantle a former nightclub will add 4,100 more.
Although the 280-room Sheraton Four Points Hotel has had a checkered history recently - it closed briefly when its previous owner went bankrupt last year - a group of private investors has since put it through a major renovation that is set to culminate with a reopening December 3.
Bob Dorr, director of sales and marketing, says the hotel is targeting the convention and business trade. It has 25,000 square feet of space available for meetings, making it one of the biggest such facilities in the state. BNH
n. “Ask if your bank is preferred,” he suggests.
Still, certain programs, such as the 504 loan, require as many as three levels of approval. In light of the upturn in the economy - and the extra hassles that come along with SBA loans - how necessary is an SBA guarantee for getting a small-business loan these days?
In the case of one entrepreneur, it was indispensable. “I don't think I could have got my loan without it,” said Tim Claypoole, owner of Yourz, a new T-shirt boutique located on Whitney Avenue in New Haven. The shop sells silkscreened and embroidered clothing, bags, mugs and greeting cards, most of which involve a stick figure design that started out on Claypoole's sketch pad 13 years ago.
The store opened in May, but not before Claypoole negotiated one of the new SBA-backed LowDoc loans from People's Bank. The program, which guarantees up to 80 percent of a loan of up to $100,000, features a one-page SBA application and was designed to streamline the process of getting loans to the smallest of small businesses. How well did the program live up to its promises?
“It was really simple,” Claypoole recalls. “I filled out the paperwork with the bank, and then filled out the paperwork for the SBA. They didn't have any questions, and I didn't hear back from them until about eight weeks later when I got the loan.”
“From when I first sat down, it only took a couple of months,” says the 29-year-old entrepreneur, whose father co-signed the loan. Less than $50,000 (Claypoole declines to specify the exact amount), the loan went toward “start-up costs” such as inventory and remodeling the storefront, he says.
“I think banks are so shell-shocked from the '80s that they're reticent about giving money to small businesses,” Claypoole says. Especially to businesses in my situation, where they don't have a” lot of capital. My bank was encouraging, but SBA really helped solidify the deal,” he said.
Not all borrowers wind up as happy with their loans as Tim Claypoole, however. For Laura J. Reid, the decision to go through the SBA turned into a bureaucratic nightmare from which she has yet to awaken.
The co-owner of Fish Mart, a wholesale livestock business that supplies tropical fish, small animals and reptiles to pet stores, Reid and her husband bought the 23-year-old business outright from their other partners in 1980 for $1 and $200,000 in debt. Since then they have grown it to $6 million in annual revenues.
In 1986, Reid says they decided to buy the business' current facility on Richard Street in West Haven, so they went to what was then Connecticut Savings Bank (now First Union Bank of Connecticut) and negotiated a $272,000 loan under what was then the SBA's 503 program. The SBA 503 has since become the SBA 504, after some important changes were made to address the sorts of problems that borrowers like Reid faced in the past.
“We only had ten percent for a down payment at the time, and that's when the bank suggested going with the SBA,” she says. As the 504 loan requires now, the 503 program required the borrower to front only ten percent of the loan, while the bank supplies 50 percent and the remaining 40 percent is put up by an SBA-guaranteed Community Development Corp. (CDC), which finances its portion through the sale of bonds.
Sounds perfect, right? “It was a bureaucratic nightmare,” says Reid, who complained that it took a year and a half to close on the loan. By that time, she said, Fish Mart was in a position to pay a full 20 percent down payment, which meant that they could have qualified for a regular bank loan and avoided the SBA hassles altogether.
“The closing document was three inches thick,” she jokes now. “My husband and I each had to sign our names 75 times at the closing.”
What's no laughing matter, she said, are the pre-payment penalties that prevented her from getting the 20-year loan off her books. She's long since cashed out the portion that her ba
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