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Dear Akeem: Resources for food entrepreneurs, plus special business property loans

The Enterprise Center. August 11, 2017 Category: ColumnFeaturedLongMethod

Cool Things Wit Cool People is a monthly advice column by Akeem Dixon focusing on community development. To ask a question, email coolthingswitcoolpeople@gmail.com, or reach out @akeemdixon.

Dear Akeem,

I’m looking for some information on special business property loans. The opportunity I found is being offered by the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA) for two-percent interest loans to purchase property. What’s the catch?

I was interested to know if this type of loan could qualify for a property that’s residential and business or be used to make off-campus housing for students since it does say “multi-tenant facilities.” The fact that there’s no application or further information online makes me think that this opportunity was not meant to be accessible. I’ve called the PIDA office a couple of times before, but no one picked up and I hate playing phone tag if I don’t have to.

What’s the best strategy to get this type of loan? My goal is to have some property that can produce “passive” income for me. My ideas are 1.) student housing, preferably with a place for me to stay on-site as a superintendent, and 2.) to purchase an auto shop garage in an area with a parking need and rent out spaces. I have no experience in development and never had a mortgage. However, my credit is excellent and I have a good amount of savings I can pull from.

— Kyree Holmes


Dear Kyree,

Calling countless times to get answers stinks. Often, the program wants you to contact them so that they can better assist you. Spending time on an application for a program that you aren’t aware that you DON’T qualify for because there are too many details to list on a one-page flier SUCKS! Thus the request to call, learn more, and find out if the opportunity is the right fit for you.

Think of it as calling the hotline to get free tickets to your favorite artist that’s in concert. Or calling the friend you vent to after a rough day. We make those calls countless times. In this case, reaching out countless times will give you the long-term financial freedom that you are actively trying achieve.

From our Partners

Sources within the Department of Commerce — hi, Sara! — tell me this particular loan product cannot fund multi-tenant housing projects. It will only provide loans for commercial and industrial. My source suggests that you direct questions about this type of loan program to the Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation. The contact there is Chamor Hollinger at chollinger@pidc-pa.org.

I’d also suggest you look into Jumpstart Germantown. The knowledge, mentorship, and access to capital you seek can all be found at their website. Use your goggles and you may notice that this program and your PIDC contact will have you feeling like you just won front-row tickets to see your favorite artist in concert.


Dear Akeem,

I’m starting a new food business. Any resources would be appreciated.

— Abraham El


Hey Abraham,

For over 20 years, The Enterprise Center (TEC) has been helping small businesses in the city. Their assortments of programs help not only startups but also well-established businesses take the next leap in their business journey.

Visit their website and click the “For Entrepreneurs” tab.

The Dorrance H. Hamilton Culinary Center is one TEC’s flagship projects. This facility will provide space for you to develop and expand your food concept. The facility allows food entrepreneurs like you the opportunity to host demonstrations, test products and cater while using a five-star kitchen.

You should contact Gabrielle Wanamaker at gwanamaker@theenterprisecenter.com. She has an amazing staff with years of experience helping future business leaders like yourself take your vision from idea, to the kitchen, and into a profitable dish.

Good luck!


Next month, I’m partnering with Keep Philadelphia Beautiful (KPB) to answer readers’ questions about all things trash and litter. Meet me and KPB Executive Director Michelle Feldman during our Cool Things Wit Cool People office hours on Wednesday, Sept. 6, from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at Center City’s Square One Coffee.

Or, as always, email your Qs tp coolthingswitcoolpeople@gmail.com, or reach out on Twitter @akeemdixon.



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