Empowering LGBTQ Businesses
Empowering LGBTQ Businesses
After over two decades of vacationing on Cape Cod together – and frequent travel between Manhattan and Provincetown - former New Yorkers Patrick Flaherty and John Jay Wooldridge decided it was time to finally make Provincetown their permanent home.
It was also the right time for them to realize their longtime dream of becoming innkeepers.
As they began exploring the idea of purchasing an inn, Flaherty and Wooldridge were referred to Cape Cod-based Coastal Community Capital – a non-profit community development lender - as a potential resource. They connected with Coastal’s loan analyst Bill Flynn, who provided the partners with guidance and assistance in the 18 months leading up to their February 2014 purchase of the Inn at Cook Street, an 1836 Greek Revival located in the heart of Provincetown for 178 years.
“It was a dream for us to purchase this inn, and Coastal Community Capital was a major player in making that dream come true,” Flaherty said. In its first summer season, the Inn at Cook Street reached 90-100% capacity its first summer in business. “Coastal Community Capital continues to provide us with ongoing support to help us meet and exceed our goals.”
According to President Jeannine Marshall, Coastal Community Capital is working to ensure that more LGBTQ entrepreneurs like Flaherty and Wooldridge have the tools they need to grow successful small businesses and create good jobs here in the Commonwealth. Marshall said the lending organization has followed the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) lead in empowering the LGBTQ business community, an untapped resource that plays an important role in the local economy.
“We are committed to an inclusive vision of entrepreneurship,” said Marshall. “We are striving to provide the LGBTQ business community – a critical sector of our regional economy – with the resources they need to survive and thrive.”
The SBA reports that there are more than 1.4 million LGBTQ-owned small businesses in the United States today. Over the last few years, Coastal Community Capital has financed over $6 million in loans to the regional LGBTQ community, and leveraged an additional $9,000,000 in private investment, for a total invest of $15 million. Marshall said this has resulted in the creation/retention of almost 200 jobs.
John Wooldridge said that working with the Coastal Community team, he and Flaherty were able to navigate the many challenges facing new business owners. “They were an enormous resource to us as we pulled together our business plan and strategy, putting us in touch with potential financing options and creating relationships for us that we still use today,” he said. “Their knowledge of the local market – and especially the LGBTQ market – was invaluable to us.”
Sharing this sentiment are new innkeepers Allison Baldwin and Ilene Mitnick, who opened the doors to their completely renovated inn in Provincetown – called Roux – in July. During a visit to Cape Cod a couple years ago, they knew that Provincetown would be the perfect backdrop for their new businesses venture, based on its seaside charm and rich cultural offerings. They sought out Coastal Community Capital’s help shortly after they began their property search in the winter of 2013.
“Throughout the process, Coastal Community Capital worked diligently on our behalf,” Baldwin said. “Through a myriad of twists and turns, a government shut-down and down-to-the-wire issues, they were full partners – driving the process as though it was their own."
Their search ended in February 2014, when Baldwin and Mitnick finally moved in and began renovations on Roux. “The Coastal Community Capital team reveled in the thrill and excitement of our every step forward,” Mitnick said. “They believed in us, and for that we are very grateful."
To learn more about Coastal Community Capital and its loan programs and mentoring opportunities for veterans considering small business ownership, contact 508-362-3755.