SBA loan granted for Seaford Holiday Inn

By Lynn R. Parks

Several months ago, the Holiday Inn Express on U.S. 13 in Seaford was in danger of closing. It had been losing money for three years and its owner had been forced to lay off employees.

The hotel, built in 1998 and overlooking Williams Pond, was up for sale. "It was an underperforming asset that I believed just needed the right management to succeed," said Chan Patel, Philadelphia. Patel wanted to buy the building. But every place that he looked for a loan refused him.

"The conventional lending just wasn't there, especially to buy something that wasn't doing well," Patel said. So he turned to the Small Business Administration.

Patel was approved for a $3.1 million SBA-guaranteed loan, with which he purchased and renovated the hotel. On Monday, representatives from the SBA and city, county, state and federal governments celebrated the hotel's new beginning. "This is a great little hotel," said Sen. Chris Coons. "It's been underappreciated, but I believe it has good days ahead."

Coons thanked Patel for working to save the jobs at the Holiday Inn. "At the end of the day, our economy will be healed by small business, one job at a time," he said.

State Rep. Dan Short agreed that emphasis on small businesses is important. The Seaford economy at one time was largely dependent on one big employer,

the DuPont Co. nylon plant, he said, and is still suffering the effects of that plant's repeated downsizings. "Now, everyone in the city is focused on the fact that every small business is important," he said.

"America's economic recovery depends on job creation, and that depends on small businesses," said Jayne Armstrong, director of the SBA Delaware District Office.

Short also praised the teamwork evident in the effort to help the Holiday Inn. "This is the epitome of what it will take," he said. "We have a good team here, with people from the city, the county, the state and the federal government. We are all here to help make a success of this business."

Patel took over ownership of the hotel in November. He kept all 20 people who were working at the hotel when he bought it and has added two additional full-time positions. As the number of guests increases, he intends to add staff until he is up to the 35 employees that the hotel had a few years ago.

He said that already, he is seeing signs of a resurgence. "This summer, it will be a lot different from what it was last summer," he said. Patel's loan was made by Republic First Bank in Philadelphia. It was brokered by MBA Capital Funding Inc., Baltimore.

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