Navigant launches effort to help rescue Garcia

Navigant launches effort to help rescue Garcia

PAWTUCKET - Left "holding the bag" by city officials and members of the Pawtucket Business Development Corporation when they rejected her start-up microloan application and put the whole loan program on ice, city resident and entrepreneur Jeannette Garcia felt like she had nowhere to turn.

But representatives from Navigant Credit Union and the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation are now looking to come to her rescue.

The Breeze reported last week that Garcia's $10,000 microloan from the PBDC, as well as the chance that came with it for another $5,000 line of credit and refinance options on her Pawtucket home, had fallen through.

Sandra Cano, Navigant's business and community development officer, said that bank officials are very seriously considering a loan for Garcia, and are even trying to get her more money than was previously being sought through the PBDC.

"We're not sure yet, but we're probably going to be able to do more than $10,000," she said.

The credit union's efforts, combined with those of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation, could end up getting Garcia the $38,000 total she is looking for, according to Cano, who also serves as a freshman member of the Pawtucket School Committee.

"We're trying to find her other sources of money as well," she said.

Cano and Claudia Cardozo, urban business development manager at the RIEDC, were scheduled to meet with Garcia at her Inspire Health and Fitness studio at 245 York Ave. on Tuesday afternoon for a tour of the facility.

Though city officials and representatives from the Pawtucket Business Development Corporation expressed concerns about Garcia's business plan, Cano said that Navigant officials have so far found no problems with it. From all appearances, the business plan and revenue projections are all in order, she said, adding that Garcia was "well organized and provided everything she needed to."

The concern on the part of Navigant officials is that Garcia not "be left hanging" for the remainder of the money she needs to open her holistic wellness center, said Cano.

"We never want to say 'no' to a person, and we look for a ways and resources across the state to get them the money they need," she said.

Tim Draper, vice president of marketing for Navigant, told The Breeze that last week's story alerted bank officials to Garcia's plight and provided the impetus to help get her a loan.

"We're a community bank and when there's a member of the community who looks like she could use some help, we want to lend a hand," said Draper. "That's really what we're all about."

There are "a number of avenues" bank officials are looking at to help Garcia, said Draper, and could end up landing her a Small Business Administration-type loan. Cano has "good contacts" with the community and the RIEDC, he said, making it easier to get a potential loan done.

"We're certainly doing everything we can to make sure it is doable for her (Garcia) to open her business," he said.

Garcia said she has heard from no one with the city since her loan fell through two weeks ago, but said last week's story in The Breeze sparked significant interest from people looking to help her raise the money she needs to open.

"Many people have called me and do want to help," she said.

Garcia said she is thankful for the assistance being offered by both Navigant and the RIEDC and is hopeful that she'll finally be able to realize her dream of opening her own business.

According to Garcia, she was told by city officials that she did everything right in obtaining the microloan through the PBDC, following each step of the process to getting a loan. It was city officials who initially approached her about the program, she said.

Barney Heath, Pawtucket's director of Planning and Redevelopment, told The Breeze for last week's story that there were never any guarantees for Garcia's loan, despite what she might have been led to believe by some city officials. Members of the PBDC board had a number of concerns about Garcia's loan, said Heath, prompting officials to call off the program for the next four months as they reevaluate its requirements.