Pasco County, Florida — Ervin Dhima always wanted to open his own restaurant and last week his dream became reality thanks to a little help from Pasco Economic Development Council, Inc.’s microloan program. Dhima, the twelfth recipient of a microloan from Pasco EDC, opened a franchise of the Little Greek Restaurant in Mitchell Ranch Plaza and it is already packed with people eating pitas.
“It has been very busy since we opened and we are planning to hold a grand opening event soon,” said Dhima. “We were very happy to receive the microloan from Pasco EDC, and now we are living our dream of owning our very own restaurant.”
Dhima grew up in Corfu, Greece, and trained professionally with the head chef at Corfu Palace Hotel and Resort. After immigrating to the United States in 2000, Dhima worked in the iconic Greek restaurant The Parthenon in Chicago, Illinois.
Little Greek Restaurants has been rapidly growing and in 2013 it was named one of the 50 “Breakout Brands” by Nation’s Restaurant News. Dhima joined Little Greek Restaurant at the beginning stages of the franchise in 2008 and helped the company open franchise locations in Texas and Florida. Now Dhima opened a new franchise location of his own in Trinity, Florida and has already hired nine employees.
Since 1995, small businesses in the United States have generated 65% of all net new jobs which equates to almost two out of every three new jobs created. It is a startling statistic which holds true in Pasco County and a key reason Pasco EDC created the microloan program to help entrepreneurs.
“Financing is just one piece of the puzzle,” said John Hagen, Pasco EDC President/CEO. “A key component of the microloan program, and why it is unique, is that loan recipients receive guidance and technical assistance along with the financing.”
Several banks have seen the potential that Pasco EDC’s microloan offers companies and have invested in the program since its inception including Bank of America, CenterState Bank, Suncoast Credit Union, and Wells Fargo.
The Pasco EDC microloan fund was established to help local entrepreneurs who cannot obtain traditional financing to grow their business and create jobs. Pasco EDC is urging companies who need help obtaining non-traditional financing and are headquartered in Pasco County, or planning to locate in Pasco County, to consider applying for a microloan.
Borrowers must show they have the experience and resources to be successful business operators. Proceeds may be used for working capital, inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery and equipment, but not to purchase real estate or to refinance existing debt. Please visit www.pascoedc.com for more information on how to apply, or call Pasco EDC at 813-926-0827 to consider donating to the fund.