Blanding’s Patio is example of rural business loan in action

Lana Arthur, co-owner of The Patio in Blanding, said the iconic 60-year-old eatery’s recent and dramatic expansion and remodel was in her and her customers’ best interest. She and her husband, Ricky, took advantage of a small business loan program managed by the Southeastern Utah Economic Development District.
Courtesy photo

The Southeastern Utah Economic Development District has a Revolving Loan Fund available for businesses that qualify, and that money can make all the difference to a small operation, according to SEUEDD spokesman Richard Shaw.

Shaw referenced the Patio Drive In in Blanding. He said the business, originally built in 1959, has gone through a number of owners in the past 60 years. Ricky and Lana Arthur have owned it for the last decade. Shaw noted that the business is an “iconic establishment” in Blanding, one that has never been closed since it first opened.

Shaw said the building was in need of improvements, including an expansion of the building. They obtained a Small Business Administration loan through the SEUEDD Revolving Loan Fund, as well as a heating-ventilation-air conditioning grant and a grant from the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. Shaw said the improvements modernized the business, “yet still set in the memory of the 1950s.”

“Our desire to rejuvenate the building, enlarge our dining area and create storage was based on our need to accommodate more customers,” said Lana Arthur. “We had simply outgrown our space. However, because of Patio’s extensive history we had no desire to move locations. We feel the upgrades to our current building were in our best interest.”

Shaw said the SBA was willing to loan a percentage of the money the Arthurs requested, but it was less than what they needed. Dawna Houskeeper, program manager of the loan program, said the RLF provided gap funding that allowed the Arthurs to upgrade equipment, the electrical system, and new ventilation in the kitchen.

The RLF program began in 1969 by the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Governments and the Economic Development Administration. The program began when SEUALG secured a grant with matching money from the EDA to start the fund.

The fund is designed to help a business start or expand current businesses to grow. Over the years many different kinds of businesses have benefited from the program. A few examples include convenience stores, mortuaries, monument builders, saddle tree builders, steel manufacturing, food trucks and yurts.

“The qualifying businesses are unique and so is this loan program, which was designed to help them,” explained Houskeeper.

One of the rules that applies when qualifying includes a documented denial from traditional banks or financial organizations, said Shaw.

Another condition is that the loan recipient will add one new full-time job to the area for each $25,000 borrowed. The businesses have two years to create the jobs. The structuring for the kinds of employment expected to be created is such that the positions are in low to medium salary compensation levels.

The RLF loan fund of SEUALG/SEUEDD is only available to businesses in the four counties SEUALG serves, which are Grand, Carbon, Emery, and San Juan.