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Jeff and Cindy Cregar open second Milkhouse using SBA 504 funding from First Merchants Bank & Indiana Statewide CDC
The Milkhouse, long a familiar Richmond landmark, continues on the comeback road.

Jeff and Cindy Cregar are opening a Milkhouse at 300 West Main that has been closed for several years. Opening day is Saturday, June 16. The Cregars purchased and remodeled the Milkhouse building and installed new equipment with financing from the U.S. Small Business Administration 504 loan program. The loan was provided by First Merchants Bank, Richmond and the Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corporation.

Opening the second Milkhouse was possible because of the success of the Cregars' first Milkhouse at 1700 East Main. Jeff and Cindy bought that east side store three years ago.

"Business has been steady and it's gotten better," says Jeff Cregar. He hopes the Milkhouse on the west side will enjoy similar success. Eight people are employed at the East Main store and six additional people have been hired for the West Main location.

Indiana Statewide CDC works with local lenders to provide SBA 504 loans to owners of small businesses. By using 504 loans, small business owners can get long-term, fixed rate financing with low down payments similar to commercial financing available for large companies. Since Congress created the 504 program in 1986, SBA 504 loans have funded over $62 billion to over 130,000 small businesses. In turn, those small firms have created or retained over 2.1 million jobs for the U.S. economy.

Executive Director Jean Wojtowicz says that the Indiana Statewide CDC has invested more than $385 million in 1,012 Indiana companies since 1983, creating or saving 26,500 jobs. Indiana Statewide CDC is the leading SBA 504 lender in Indiana.

Wojtowicz says, "SBA 504 loans are effective because borrowing companies can put as little as 10 percent down and receive a low, fixed interest rate for as long as 20 years. The SBA guarantees bonds sold privately to finance a portion of the loan. With the guarantee, we can offer loan rates that are more favorable than conventional financing."

The Milkhouse pioneered the convenience store format when original owners operated as many as five stores in Richmond more than 40 years ago.

"We consider the Milkhouse to be the ultimate convenience store," says Jeff Cregar. Motorists order their milk, tobacco products, snacks or fountain drinks at a drive-up window and Milkhouse employees deliver the order to the cars.

"Our customers never have to leave their cars. This is especially convenient for those who may have physical limitations, parents with young children buckled into their car seats, anyone who is simply in a hurry, or wants to stay out of adverse weather conditions."

Cregar adds, "Customers have told me we have the best fountain drinks in town."

The Cregars financed the first store with SBA 504 financing. "The program is good for us: it provided a lower interest rate than what we could have gotten elsewhere and that rate is locked in for twenty years. This will certainly help us plan and control our expenses for the future."

Lee Elzemeyer of First Merchants says, "The Cregars are careful business owners and are improving the already excellent reputation of the Milkhouse.

"First Merchants Bank uses every tool it can to help companies in Wayne County grow and create jobs. The 504 program is an excellent resource, and we continue to put it to work here and elsewhere in east central Indiana," Elzemeyer says.

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