Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Jose Luis Gutierrez

Karibe Dance Studio

Miami, Florida

“At the beginning it was hard. Thank goodness I was able to get PPP and another loan to help me open up in June with COVID safety measures still in place.  Thank God, little by little, we’re still here!” –Jose Luis Gutierrez

 Jose Luis Gutierrez, a Dominican-American artist, and former Marine Corps, owns Karibe Dance Studio in the City of Sweetwater in South Florida, which he founded 17 years ago. When the pandemic started in March 2020, Jose had to close the business due to developing COVID-19 guidelines and regulations. One month after being shut down, Jose sought assistance from Ascendus’s community partner Prospera to overcome the challenges and losses caused by the pandemic.  

Concerned about the Miami community’s health and wellness, Jose knew he could make a difference through his business. Their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing could be improved through the physical and social nature of dance. Jose’s concern for his community ignited his passion and vision to grow his business. By leveraging a JPMorgan Chase-funded partnership, Ascendus and Prospera – an inclusive institution that provides customized financial solutions to small business owners, collaborated on a holistic and integrated consulting approach to help Jose with the short-term needs for emergency capital during the pandemic, as well as longer-term solutions to sustain and grow Karibe Dance Studio.  

Like many of Ascendus sole proprietor clients, Jose did not qualify for the first Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) round. He then turned to the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), which he was initially approved, but later received an email declining the loan. However, his SBA advocate was successfully able to reverse the denial and he was approved in late June.   

Ascendus helped Jose secure an additional microloan and, once sole proprietors became eligible, PPP funding for over $16,000 in early 2021. Part of the capital he secured was used for payroll, rent, and other vital expenses. Another part was used to establish and launch a new dance program for children over three years old, including curriculum, facility expansion, staff capacity, and other related expenses. Jose launched his new dance program towards the end of 2020. Moreover, Jose was also awarded a grant to develop a new business plan that would help him analyze his business strategy and study opportunities for growth.  

Armed with his new business plan and improved financial position, Jose applied for an SBA loan to purchase the property where his dance studio is located. He is expecting to close on his mortgage loan in just a few weeks with support from Prospera, which will help him implement his new business plan, diversify his revenues, and ensure his long-term growth. 

 To watch Telemundo 51’s coverage of Jose Luis’ story in Spanish, click here. 

To find out more about Karibe Dance Studio, click here. 

 This story was originally published by Ascendus’s partner Prospera on their website.  

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