Local businesses already prepping for expected Spooky Nook-related growth

Two community-based organizations are joining forces to help local businesses prepare for growth that the opening of Spooky Nook at Champion Mill is expected to generate.

The Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce recently partnered with SCORE to speak with small business owners about the financial viability of their operations ahead of the sports complex’s projected 2021 opening.

“We are asking people to re-examine their business plans and make sure their business is prepped for future growth,” said Dan Bates, the chamber’s president and CEO. “Often with that comes the financial view to see if they’re going to need to have an infusion of cash or are they on the right track and what’s their cash flow look like and will that allow them to grow?”

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SCORE, a national organization whose mission is to foster small business communities through mentoring and education, works to ensure that every entrepreneur has the support he or she needs to succeed.

The volunteer organization is composed of experienced business people from a wide range of industries and disciplines, most of them retired and whom volunteer their time to assist and mentor business owners.

Spooky Nook Sports, which opened in 2013 near Lancaster, Pa., had a nearly $55 million economic impact there, including $15.5 million in revenue and $39.2 million in off-site ancillary spending by Spooky Nook multi-day attendees in 2017, according to an economic impact summary prepared by Tourism Economics.

A similar impact is expected for Spooky Nook at Champion Mill, a $144 million project that broke ground last month in Hamilton for its projected 2021 opening.

MORE: Spooky Nook project wouldn’t just help Hamilton. The sports center’s impact would reverberate for miles.

“It’s a good time, with Spooky Nook coming, to be preparing for growth,” Bates said. “They have a few years for people to be looking at and saying that ‘If my foot traffic for my business drastically improves, am I prepared to fuel that growth?’”

Bates said business owners are sitting down with the chamber’s finance director, as well as Hamilton’s SCORE representative, Glenn Clevenger, who has “a very strong financial background.”

Clevenger, who created First Financial Bank’s Small Business Administration program in 2005, worked there as a vice president for eight years before leaving that position. He then ran the local Small Business Administration, which covers all of Southwest Ohio, for five years before retiring in May.

The background is invaluable at looking at a business owner’s finances and determining if they are on track for healthy, sustainable financial growth, Bates said.

MORE: A sports complex coming to Hamilton had a massive impact in another state. Here’s what happened.

Existing and expected businesses that don’t start planning now could eventually end up regretting it, Clevenger said.

“Planning ahead your financing options, in terms of developing a business plan, is very important even if it’s years down the road, ” he said. “It takes time.”

For example, if a business cannot qualify for a bank loan, another option might be available, Clevenger said.

“All of those things are things that I and (other) SCORE mentors know about,” he said. “That’s pretty key.”

Visit www.scoreworks.org or call 513-668-0634 for more information.

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