Rende Progress Capital issued a loan to a dance academy to help the owner make upgrades.
RPC, a racial equity lender co-founded in 2018 by Eric Foster and Cuong Huynh, said it issued a flexible term loan for an undisclosed amount to Jennifer Smith, owner of Over the Top Academy of Dance, at 2423 Eastern Ave. SE in Grand Rapids’ Alger Heights neighborhood.
Foster, chair and managing director of RPC, said the loan will go toward helping the business recover from COVID-19, building renovations including sound and lighting upgrades, equipment purchases for Pilates and providing new class offerings and services.
He said Smith, a Black business leader, is a graduate of the business training program SpringGR, an RPC partner that helps minority- and women-owned businesses scale up.
Smith and her network of teachers offer instruction in tap, ballet, hip-hop and jazz dance for individuals, groups, children and families in the community. Classes include Movement Collective, Hotties in Heels and Boys Pre-Sports Programs.
She said she is thankful to RPC for approving her loan application.
“I am grateful that someone looked at our full portfolio — not just our numbers. RPC saw us and our business in our entirety. I am appreciative of the value they place on who we are. Their interest in us went beyond our balance sheet and was also about focusing on who we serve and what we do at our core — not just how profitable we are,” Smith said. “I appreciate how RPC made an intentional effort to know us.”
Foster said loan approval was based on Smith’s “expertise, business fundamentals and determination.”
“Management, staff and the loan committee were impressed by Over the Top Academy of Dance and its variety of program offerings that serve as a variety of revenue streams as well as being impactful in the areas of mind, body and spirit for a number of wide-ranging and demographically diverse clients,” he said.
“Our team and loan committee were also appreciative of Smith’s ability to persevere through marketplace exclusion and COVID-19. We felt compelled to equip her with capital in order to keep an established and notable business with award-winning services remaining in a great Alger Heights neighborhood.”