JONESBORO, Ark., - Running a trucking business has its ups and downs. Just ask John and Sabrina Ryan, co-owners of GLS Trucking in Jonesboro, Arkansas. The husband-wife team needed to expand their successful 10-year-old firm, but the costs of equipment and cash flow were just a few of the bumps in the road. Then they learned about the Economic Development Program (EDP) from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas (FHLB Dallas) and member institutions like First Community Bank.
The Ryans received a loan from First Community Bank that was funded by an EDP advance from FHLB Dallas. In conjunction with the loan, the Ryans were awarded a $16,000 EDPPlus grant from First Community Bank and FHLB Dallas.
“Small businesses in Arkansas are anything but small,” said First Community Bank President and COO Boris Dover. “Companies which have fewer than 100 employees, like GLS Trucking, made up nearly half of all Arkansas employers in 2013.”
GLS Trucking is a regional carrier, primarily hauling lumber and steel sheets. The business is a vital contributor to the local economy, explained Debra Taylor, vice president of commercial lending at First Community Bank.
“First Community Bank takes our community commitment seriously because we know it makes such a positive impact for our neighbors,” she said. “With the EDPPlus grant, we were able to help the Ryans hire two new employees and purchase a new trailer. That was important to us.”
Without the EDPPlus grant, Mr. Ryan said the needed expansion might not have happened.
“I guarantee it would be have been harder to add two more employees,” he said. “Keeping up with the cash flow is the hardest thing. When you buy a truck, you spend $20,000, and then you have to wait about a month for the revenues to start coming in. The grant gave us a cushion for working capital.”
EDPPlus grants are awarded in conjunction with EDP advances and are available on a first-come, first-served basis to promote and enhance small-business development and job creation.
As part of the program, the Ryans met with the Arkansas State University Small Business and Technology Development Center (SBTDC).
“We are proud to have played a role in strengthening small businesses in northeast Arkansas,” said Center Director Laura Miller. “First Community Bank has successfully utilized the EDP program to help many customers start and grow their small businesses.”
The SBTDC provided the Ryans with research, including industry and market information. It also reviewed and offered feedback about their business plan and financial projections.
In 2016, FHLB Dallas has committed $1 million for EDPPlus grants. In 2015, FHLB Dallas awarded nearly that amount to assist 50 small businesses in the Bank’s five-state District of Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Texas. In Arkansas, EDPPlus grants totaling $653,596 were awarded to 32 small businesses.
Gustavo Molina, senior vice president and chief banking operations officer at FHLB Dallas, said the EDP offers members a competitive advantage in the marketplace.
“The EDPPlus grant stands out because it is one of the few available to for-profit businesses in our five-state District,” Mr. Molina said. “It allows small companies located in underserved areas the chance to further invest in their communities.”