Food company uses city loan program to expand operations
Emphasizing the importance of organic food, local residents Chrissy Cox and Dawna Bass co-founded Rainbow Juices in 2012 as a home-based business to provide fresh, cold-pressed juices to the community.
What started as a small business delivering organic juices to local cafes has turned into a brick and mortar in three years at 246 E. 3rd St. cafes are now coming to our downtown area. [location]”Cox said.” We had already established strong community support. “
In 2017, Rainbow Juices expanded to include a cafe next door at 244 E. 3rd St., known as Under the Sun. Both establishments serve raw fruit and vegetable juices, and the cafe offers an exclusive vegan menu of burgers, sandwiches, burritos, pastas, and salads. “We have a lot of people who come to our restaurant – the coffee and the juice – who are changing the whole way people view food,” Cox said.
Cox said the duo had a vision last year to expand Rainbow Juices’ business model to provide smaller pop-up locations throughout the community. “We are state licensed to distribute locally at our own facilities,” Cox said. “As we grow we don’t have to create an entire kitchen and pay for all that capital goods. “
Needing resources to complete their next expansion project, Cox and Bass consulted with the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA), the nonprofit that runs the downtown business improvement districts. The DLBA referred them to the city’s microenterprise loan program, run by Seyed Jalali, Economic Development Officer for the City of Long Beach.
The Microenterprise Loan Program, one of three municipal loan programs available to help local businesses, is designed to help start a new business or provide capital to existing ones. Loans start at $ 25,000. Jalali said he spoke with Cox and Bass about the program last November.
Rainbow Juices and Under the Sun were approved for a $ 50,000 loan under the program on December 1. Jalali said the approval process involved submitting the application to the city’s Economic Development Loan Committee, a subset of the Economic Development Commission. The committee is made up of three members who have the exclusive power to approve or deny loans.
Jalali said the microenterprise loan program can offer up to $ 95,000 to eligible businesses. Loans are amortized between 5 and 10 years depending on the destination of the funds. The amount of interest is determined by the current prime rate, which is now 5.5%, plus 1.5%, according to Jalali.
The incentive for the city to provide capital to businesses is job creation. “We see that it is part of our mission to empower entrepreneurs,” Jalali said. “These businesses are required to create a full-time job for every $ 35,000 they borrow. Job creation, wealth creation and the success of these businesses benefit the city.
The program is funded in part by the US Economic Development Administration to the tune of $ 1 million, in addition to the city’s $ 1.5 million of money. Jalali said it is also funded on a “revolving” basis. “While people pay back [their loans], this money is being loaned again, ”he said.
Austin Metoyer, head of economic development and policy for the DLBA, said the alliance has a working relationship with the city’s economic development department. While it is not necessary for either entity to notify the other if companies are reaching out to them, Metoyer said it was in the mutual interest to publicize the city’s programs. “The city’s resources are excellent,” he said. “They’re really hard to find if you don’t know they’re there.”
Cox said the loan has so far been used to open a new location at Steelcraft in Bixby Knolls, where they had been operating for about four months. The reception was positive. “Many local businesses just come to this place and let us know they need [healthy food], “she said.” They will drive through town by car [to] our downtown location, but that makes it so convenient for them. They are very happy to have us.
Cox said that microcredit “paves the way for [the expansion], which is awesome.