Can a nickel revitalize Reno?
Three businessmen who grew up in the area are behind the new Reno Rebuild Project, which aims to donate a portion of their business’ profit to downtown development.
Partners and former classmates Michael Connolly, Chris Kahl and Zachary Cage are pledging 5 cents from every item purchased in their establishments — from the beginning of the year — toward a fund established to help other aspiring business owners launch their ventures.
The three run Legends Grill, Sports and Spirits, Sierra Tap House, Ole Bridge Pub and the soon-to-be-open Brewer’s Cabinet.
“Someone just needs to give them the opportunity to meet their goal if they want to want to open their own business,” Kahl said. “It’s a cool opportunity for them.”
The partners struggled to obtain financing from banks and other traditional avenues. Family and friends stepped in to back their businesses.
They realize that not everyone has family and friends who can provide such support, so this is their way of extending a hand to other entrepreneurs.
By the end of the year, they said they hope to raise at least $20,000 to $30,000. Other businesses have already expressed interest in participating in the program.
“We also structured it to where other business owners and individuals in general can put money in,” Connolly said.
The Reno Rebuild Project will award a loan to a nonfranchised, small, local business in 2013.
Details of the process and qualifications for receipt still are being worked out, but a local group, the Community Foundation of Western Nevada, is helping them establish the nonprofit. Ideas still are being batted around, but the community should be part of choosing the business who will receive the funds, Kahl said.
“We want people to get involved,” he said. “The three of us can’t single-handedly make downtown Reno come back. It’s going to take a group effort that takes time. It took a long time to build up this city, and then, it got broken down. We want to build it back up again.”
Recipients have three years to repay the loan with low interest rate. Proceeds from interest will go back into the Reno Rebuild Project fund.
The partners said that fund will continue to grow, and the goal is to help more businesses open or expand in the various empty buildings dotting Reno’s landscape.
They also also plan to host several fundraisers throughout summer to bolster the fund.
“Ultimately, we don’t want to help just one person,” Connolly said “We want to help downtown Reno and Reno in general.”
The project, which launched earlier this month, quickly generated excitement. The Reno Rebuild Facebook page has more than 100 likes, and others have expressed interest in contributing to the Reno Rebuild cause.
“I believe in what these guys are doing,” said Matt Polley, owner of Java Jungle and Jungle Vino in downtown Reno. “It is really challenging for small businesses in the food and beverage industry to get a loan from any banks.
“I take pride in what they are doing and am happy to support it.”
Polley already held a fundraiser for the project and said he is looking forward to see what other partnerships might develop.
Kahl and Connolly were surprised by the the community’s reaction.
“I think everyone has had trouble getting a loan, whether it’s for a business or house,” Kahl said. “During these down times, a lot of people can relate to this situation, and they just want to see Reno come back.”