Lender leader steers economic development through role, community involvement
For President and Executive Director Erica Dombey, a trip down U.S. 30 drives home the impact of the Regional Development Company.
“Our assistance is very tangible. I can drive from Valpo to Dyer and point out all of the businesses we have financed,” she said. “It’s a great feeling, knowing that we helped them grow and succeed.”
The nonprofit organization, a Small Business Administration 504 lender, offers up to 90 percent financing for owner-occupied commercial real estate and large equipment. The team also provides 100 percent financing for expansions on the same property and a debt refinance program that lets entrepreneurs refinance their real estate debt.
“Our program allows small business owners to get into a new or larger facility with just 10 percent down,” she said. “This allows them to retain precious capital for other uses, such as increased payroll, inventory or working capital.”
In 25 years, the Valparaiso-based RDC has funded more than 500 loans and also donated more than $250,000 to chambers of commerce and economic development organizations.
“We make dreams come true. What could be better than that?” she said.
The non-profit has assisted almost 20 E-Day honorees in the 10 years that Dombey has been in the leadership role, including Task Force Tips, Vyto’s Pharmacy, Martin Binder Jeweler, In Touch Pharmaceuticals and Calumet Testing Services, Inc.
“We have financed everything from a $150,000 dental office to a $12 million assisted living facility, and just about everything in between … manufacturing facilities, franchise restaurants, even farms and a slaughterhouse,” she said. “So many of our borrowers say, ‘We couldn’t have done this without you!’”
While Dombey started her career on the consumer side of banking, she found the right fit after switching to the commercial team.
“I loved working with small business owners. Every owner is unique and every business is unique,” she said.
“I love hearing their stories: how they started, what keeps them going, how they overcame struggles, how they’ve innovated. Just learning about different industries is fascinating!”
Through her RDC role, Dombey develops relationships with borrowers, lenders and referral sources and manages the RDC’s day-to-day operations, marketing, staff, compliance and finances.
She has strong roots in the community serving as chairperson for the Northwest Indiana Forum, board member for the Lake County Indiana Economic Alliance, advisory board member for the NW-ISBDC and board member for Jacob’s Ladder Pediatric Rehabilitation Center.
Dombey continues to find success in the success of the RDC’s clients.
“Small businesses are the heart of America, and owning a small business is the American dream,” she said. “The common thread is their passion for their industry and business. They work so hard to succeed, and are the bravest people I know … to put everything they have and own on the line.”
Regional Development Company
1757 Thornapple Circle, Valparaiso