North Park Revival Fueled by Affordable Capital for Small Businesses


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November 28, 2021

Walking the commercial streets of the North Park neighborhood in San Diego, it would be hard to imagine that only 40 years ago it was in a sad state of decline. Empty storefronts were commonplace and shoppers were sparse.

What a contrast with the vibrancy you feel today strolling through this eclectic hub of commerce peppered with popular eateries, craft breweries, fitness outlets and daycare centers for kids and dogs. North Park has blossomed into what two popular internet sites rank as one of the nation’s “hippest neighborhoods” in America.

North Park’s comeback from the lean 1980s is a tale of community grit and entrepreneurism, supported by affordable capital provided by mission-driven lenders like FE Small Business Finance.

Hear from Kurt Chilcott, CEO of FE Small Business Finance, and community leader Omar Passons as they explore North Park and discuss the impact of affordable small business financing on communities:  

SBA Financing Provides Leverage for Small Businesses

Since 2008, FE has helped fuel the resurgence of North Park by providing small business owners with financial leverage in the form of SBA loans ranging from $20,000 to $2 million.

“Financing is a catalyst in the revitalization of neighborhoods and community,” said Kurt Chilcott, CEO of FE Small Business Finance. “If you stay committed, your efforts pay off in a tapestry of small business success and job creation.”

In North Park, FE has provided financing to some entrepreneurs through the evolution of their businesses, from start-up to expansion to purchasing their own building.

Angela Landsberg, executive director of North Park Main Street, which champions development and promotes pedestrian-friendly shopping and dining in the neighborhood, applauded FE’s offering of SBA 504 loans for real estate purchases, as it helps solidify the commercial community.

“If there’s any uncertainty among North Park small business owners, it’s the control of the space they’re in,” she said. “Owning your own building versus leasing creates certainty and gives entrepreneurs the confidence to continually invest in their small businesses.”

Capital Has the Power to Transform Neighborhoods

Omar Passons, a long-time North Park resident and community leader, is sold on the power of financing to transform neighborhoods.

Kurt Chilcott with Brad Keiller, owner of Nomad Donuts, an iconic fixture in the North Park community.

“Infusion of capital can make a huge difference,” he said, strolling along University Avenue in North Park. “Just look around and you’ll spot small businesses like Nomad Donuts, Berkeley Pizza and Young Hickory that have all benefited from reasonable financing. In turn, they’ve worked to improve the community.”

Passons pointed to Swami’s Café on University Avenue as an example of a growing company that bought a building vacated by a failed business, taking advantage of the SBA 504 program through FE.

“The owners are now in a better position to control their own destiny and invest in their future,” said Passons.

Chilcott, who’s been involved in economic development for 40 years, reflects that community revitalization is a long game.

“It’s slow and purposeful, but if you stay committed to the process, the results speak for themselves, like North Park,” he said.

Are you a small business owner in need of start-up financing, working capital or looking to purchase commercial real estate? Talk to our loan experts about your business challenge. Let them guide you to an affordable financing solution. Reach us at or (800) 611-5170.

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