When we were renovating an old building and opening our bicycle shop, The Progress Fund was exceptionally helpful. They provided advice and access to business development loans that we were not aware of. They were friendly and dedicated to helping us be successful.
A few days in Confluence convinced Maureen Smith that the town along the Youghiogheny River was where she and husband Brad should downshift from Washington, D.C.-area lives as a teacher and a Department of Defense manager. “He brought me here for a long weekend, and I said, ‘I love it. This is it,’” says Maureen.
The Smiths bought a 100-year-old former department store, and started restoring the 14,000-square-foot complex’s wood fixtures, brick facade, mezzanine and pre-Depression-era chandelier. Turning the second floor into two vacation rentals, though, would require capital. Through the Trail Town Program, they learned of The Progress Fund, which arranged a state First Industries Program loan of $50,000.
While preparing the rental space, the Smiths are selling, renting, repairing and accessorizing bikes, giving serious cyclists a pit stop and casual visitors a chance to try the trail. They’re directing customers to the area’s bed-and-breakfasts, restaurants, stores and campgrounds. The result: day trips turn into long weekends – like the one that left Maureen head-over-heels and resulted in two new residents and one growing business.View Story as PDF