Four E. Ala. companies benefit from Michelin cash

OPELIKA, ALA. – Building on the success of the first three businesses to receive Michelin loans in Feb. 2010, four additional local businesses have received more than a half-million dollars from the Michelin Development program. In all, seven East Alabama businesses have received loans totaling more than $1 million from Michelin Development.

Cotton South Electrical Contracting, Irish Bred Pub, and Our Home Pharmacy have been selected to receive Michelin Development low-interest loans totaling $515,000.

Michelin has dedicated $2 million for its economic development program, which provides funding and business expertise to small- and medium-sized businesses throughout East Alabama.

"The potential for these businesses to help boost the East Alabama economy and create jobs is very exciting, and Michelin is happy to play a part," said John Tully, president of Michelin Development. "The three businesses funded earlier this year are showing tremendous promise, and we have every reason to believe they will continue to thrive. The same goes for the most recent four companies to receive funding. The future is very bright for them."

The four companies selected for Michelin Development loans include start-up, new and existing businesses.  They are:

Cotton South Electrical Contracting, LLC

Chris Cotton, a 22-year veteran in the electrical contracting and construction business, was in need of funds to allow his business to grow and expand. With funds from Michelin Development, Cotton is able to increase cash flow, allowing the business to work on larger projects that have longer payment terms. The remaining funds will go to expanding a fleet of transportation vehicles, additional tools and safety upgrades, as well as a down payment for a leased building.

"With the current residential market's extremely low profit margins, it would have taken forever to have gotten off the ground," said Cotton. "This loan could not have come along at a better time. I cannot thank Michelin Development enough."

Irish Bred Pub

Joseph Garofalo's vision for opening a downtown Irish Bred Pub in Opelika is becoming a reality with the help of Michelin Development. The loan will be used for capital improvements, including some furniture and equipment. Garofalo has opened several similar full-service pubs in Georgia over the past 15 years.

"With the banking industry tightening down on available credit, I was unable to acquire the needed funding to open my pub," said Garofalo. "I am thankful to Michelin Development for helping guide me through unchartered waters and allowing me the opportunity to grow my business and be successful."

Thanks to the Michelin Development loan, Eric Halverson is now able to set up a small office and fund software development for will stream live high school football games with season pass access or on a pay-per-view basis while raising money for the participating schools. Services are also offered to junior colleges and private schools.

"Knowing what Michelin Development has done after an unfortunate plant closure goes beyond what any other corporate citizen has done in Opelika," said Halverson. "Having the ability to go through the loan process and approval was invaluable and I would not have been able to grow my business without the Michelin Development loan."

Our Home Pharmacy, Inc.

Craig Hyatt's dream of opening an independent pharmacy in Auburn is able to become a reality with the help of a Michelin Development low-interest loan. Hyatt has more than 18-years of experience and is a licensed pharmacist in both Alabama and Georgia. The loan will be used to make capital purchases, including equipment, furniture and fixtures.

"Taking care of the community is what Our Home Pharmacy's business model is based on," said Hyatt. "Michelin Development's commitment to the community has been an exact fit for our business and I am so grateful that they realized the need for small business development in Lee County."

Michelin continues to accept applications for low-interest loans from businesses across East Alabama. Loans are available to small- and medium-sized businesses located throughout East Alabama with up to five-year payment terms. Applications can be submitted online at Once a business owner registers and receives a unique user login, they will be asked to outline business plans and strategies.

Michelin Development opened its office for East Alabama in November 2009. AuburnBank administers loans for the program, and works with the Michelin Development steering committee, a group of local business and civic leaders, to review loan applications. Loans are available for accounts of $10,000 and up, and are funded by Michelin North America.

INFORMATION SOURCE: Michelin Development