SOMERSET, Ky. — The new owners of Somerset Pet Lodge don’t fit the traditional mold of business owners. Drew Miniard is just 24 years old. He formerly was the inventory manager for guns at The Castle Jewelry. His fiancée, Callie LeMaster, is 25 and previously worked as an entomologist for a company that was funded by the CDC to help eradicate diseases spread by mosquitoes.
But a love of animals and dream of being their own boss made them a natural fit. And a series of micro-loans from Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation helped make the dream a reality.
“I always wanted to be an entrepreneur,” Miniard said. “Callie and I have a passion and love for animals. The opportunity came up to buy the business. I wanted a change of pace, personal freedom, and this is something we can do forever.”
Miniard and LeMaster plan on building on an already strong business, which employs eight people and offers boarding, day care and grooming at the 6,600 square-foot building on more than an acre of land. The customer base is growing and extends into surrounding counties.
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Future plans include adding 10 to 16 new suites, building a new indoor room to be used during inclement weather, extending hours of operation and adding another groomer.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without Kentucky Highlands,” Miniard said. “They take the time to not just look at the numbers but also examine the person, which helped us get funding at a young age. Not many financial institutions would do that.”
The Micro Enterprise Loan Fund was created at Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation to address the needs of small business start-ups and expansion projects. Using funds from USDA and SBA, KHIC can make loans of up to $50,000 to small businesses. In addition to the financing, each client receives the added service of technical assistance.
Visit www.khic.org/micro-enterprise-loans/ for additional information.