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SPEEDWAY — The town of Speedway is all about racing, and Sarah Fisher wanted to add something to support the big house. Speedway Indoor Karting and 1911 Grill is about to head into it's fourth year in business and Fisher says it was with the support of the Small Business Administration's loan programs to make her karting dream a reality.
Small businesses are the engine of the economy. Since the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 when Speedway Indoor Karting and 1911 Grill first opened its doors, the businesses have become a staple spot in the racing community.
"We had always dreamed of getting back to our grassroots of racing, which is go-karts," Sarah Fisher O'Gara, co-owner and founder of Speedway Indoor Karting and 1911 Grill, said.
LEARN MORE | Speedway Indoor Karting and 1911 Grill
The former IndyCar driver has taken on big business ventures before, like owning her own IndyCar team, but this go-kart track and restaurant was something on a whole new level for Fisher.
"For Andy and I, we didn't start this project with a ton of money," Fisher O'Gara said. "Everything I had earned from my IndyCar career got dumped into the IndyCar team, so we were starting from a negative if anything. So to be able to finance this project and get it off its feet, get it up off the ground was a challenge."
The couple used a loan program available through the Small Business Administration to get a green flag on their business idea.
"Without the help of the SBA, you know, to have that banking partner aligned with the SBA to help build it together, it would have been a really big challenge, so we are thankful that 504 program exists for sure," Fisher O'Gara said.
Speedway Indoor Karting and 1911 Grill used their SBA loans for practically everything in their facility, from the real estate, to the restaurant, and even the go-karts.
"Our two main programs are the 7(a) Loan Program and the 504 Program," Stacey Poynter, the district director of the Small Business Administration, said. "So the 7(a) is a general loan program. The 504 Program is for long-term fixed asset financing such as this building that we are in today, Speedway Indoor Karting and 1911 Grill. So it can be used for that or for major equipment purposes."
In the last two fiscal years, Poynter says the SBA had over 1,500 loans made to Indiana small businesses and each year more than $750 million has been invested into Indiana through the SBA loan programs.
"It's actually a win-win-win," Poynter said. "Not only does the small business win because they get to put as little as 10% down, most times unconventional real estate you need 20 to 25% down. So they win, the community wins because it is a job investment program. And the lender wins because they get pretty good loan position with little investment."
SIK and 1911 Grill were made possible because of the SBA 504 loan program.
"I think there is a lot of validity that comes with being a SBA 504 project," Fisher O'Gara said. "The exercise of going through all the paperwork and the routine that they have you do as a startup, I think is a necessity for when you get going, because you have already gone through some of those hurdles. And it is not a hurdle that they don't help you with and advise you on."
MORE RESOURCES | U.S. Small Business Administration Indianapolis office | SBA loan programs
The SBA is an available resource for small business needs across the board, including loans and financing options, for anyone that is interested in bringing new business to the Hoosier state.
"I think that in itself can be inspiring to people who don't have funds, who don't have a background, who don't have a fortunate family who can help them get a business started, that is possible to create something if you dream big enough," Fisher O'Gara said.
The SBA partners with area banks and credit unions, so Poynter recommends talking to the bank you are already have a relationship with first. If not, there is an online lender referral tool called "Lender Match" to connect small business borrowers with participating SBA lenders interested in your loan needs.