Loan helps biz stay afloat

Coined the Micro-enterprise Loan Program, city officials provide low-interest loans to entrepreneurs in hopes they start businesses, sparking community development in poverty-stricken areas.
Andy Ouriel
Mar 25, 2014
In fish lingo, Lorenzo Tillman Jr. is a guppy in a shark’s tank.

The Sandusky resident realizes just how easy it can be for most entrepreneurs to flounder when they start a new business.

Now factor in how he reopened a store in a somewhat-impoverished area and inherited back bills left by the company’s former owner.    Despite these challenges, Tillman believes his exotic animal and fish business will float — and so do others.

Sandusky officials recently approved Tillman for an underused credit initiative.

Coined the Micro-enterprise Loan Program, city officials provide low-interest loans to entrepreneurs in hopes they start businesses, sparking community development in poverty-stricken areas.

No loan can exceed $7,500, a relatively small amount, hence the “micro” moniker. The loan’s also strictly for Sandusky residents who have trouble borrowing money through traditional methods.

Tillman received the maximum allotment to reopen Pirates Cove Tropical and Salt Water Fish on Clinton and West Monroe streets.

The store specializes in selling and even breeding exotic fish and animals.

The store also sells live bait; fishing, hunting and trapping licenses; dog tags; and food for pretty much any fish or animal imaginable.

Tillman parlayed the $7,500 to purchase some inventory and pay off bills amassed by the former owner.

“The bills accumulated before and as soon as I walked in,” Tillman said.

An Army veteran with a sales background, Tillman’s business plan revolves around providing a unique but important service to community members — criteria city officials deemed worthy of a loan.

“I had to go through different classes and explain to them what my dream was and what I wanted to do for this community,” Tillman said. “This is a store for people who are getting home, and if they forgot food or have a cloudy fish tank, they can come in here and get help from me. I don’t want people around here to travel a long way to take care of their animals or pets”

Tillman’s aggressive about pleasing his customers.

He’ll make house calls to install a saltwater tank.

If a customer wants a certain fish he doesn’t have, he’ll order it from California or Florida and ensure it’s delivered to him a day later. And he plans to wear a costume outside the store to flag down and lure people into his store.

“People will laugh, but they’ll go by and want to check out the store” Tillman said.

Tillman’s seemingly profitable business plan coupled with his passion convinced officials to provide him a loan.

“The city’s Micro-enterprise Loan Program funds are useful for small business owners and entrepreneurs to obtain a supplement in structuring the necessary capital for their business operations and equipment,” Sandusky chief planner Rebecca Corrigan said.

Tillman’s the second entrepreneur to receive this loan.

A business called Active obtained micro funds in 2009 and just paid off its principal and interest amount.

In addition to making money, Tillman hopes others apply for a loan so they, too, can help improve Sandusky.

“This is not only for myself but for other businesses that want to start,” Tillman said. “There is not a lot of help out there if your credit isn’t right. The main thing I want to do is help bring opportunity for others”

His ultimate dream: opening up at least one store like Pirates Cove in each state across the United States.



Good Luck!!

getit right be4...

City officials do not provide these loans. Tax payers do.


Two words...Krunchie Pickle.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

Welcome to the business community.


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


Sounds like the both of you guys either tasted the krunchie pickle or wanted to idk?! lol. I thought the food was good and probably could have succeed it. If it would of stayed in its original location but, than again when they don't want you to succeed you have to do everything in your power to show them different! Goodluck with your business sir! @ if u don't succeed hey you gave it a shot. That's more than half these computer trolls have done!


Well it looks like us "trolls" all are aware that The Krunchie Pickle was given start up grant money from the city. That money will never be paid back, because the guy went out of business, owes people money, and is now in PRISON!

Looks like the comment went right over your small head. Duh.


Govt. has absolutely no business putting taxpayer money at risk in order to fund 'winners & losers' in the private sector.

If the private sector won't lend them money, there must be a reason.

yea right

thats funny they are using taxpayer money on you everyday..on firefighters and about the military that keeps you free just so you can say "dumb" things on a stupid blog run by a bunch of id 10 t's.. how bout the roads you use everyday..thats all taxpayer money being used foolishly on "losers" like you everyday


ANYONE can call the fire or police department and they respond, and anyone can travel on our roads anytime they want. This program involves loans that benefit ONLY selected individuals. A business is judged by the marketplace, which decides if it succeeds or not. By interfering, government chooses who gets to succeed.


Pretty small potatoes compared to Solyndra

Pterocarya frax...

Solyndra...small potatoes compared to the billions we give to fossil fuel companies just for being, well ...fossil fuel companies.


No where in the article did it say krunchie pickle in it unless im mistaken! Sounds like a personal vendetta.. That's all water under the bridge just because one does not succeed shouldn't mean the next person will not. We all pay taxes and this man and his business will also pay taxes. Its bigger than us the people!


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).


Moderators have removed this comment because it contained Personal attacks (including: name calling, presumption of guilt or guilt by association, insensitivity, or picking fights).

yea right

Dick tracey is nothing more than an overweight dountmunching wanna be
who cant get off his sandbag chair..


As long as taxpayers aren't buying Dick's donuts, I don't really care if that's what he is or not!


I think yea right is referring to my guilty pleasure of buying nothing but donuts and pop with my Ohio Direction card, then talking on my Obama phone while riding SPARCy back home.


Will people stop talking about these "Obama" phones? The President has absolutely nothing to do with it. It is privately funded via Telecom companies, not the Taxpayer and the program itself is not administered via the government directly but via an independent Not-for-Profit company setup by the FCC.

As for SPARC, that has absolutely nothing to do with welfare recipients as you are so attacking. It is their to provide transportation to ANY and all residents or visitors to the Sandusky area, just the same as any other Public Transport system (MTA, RTA, etc...)


SPARC is taxpayer funded. I realize anybody can ride it, but that doesn't change where the bulk of the funding comes from!

As for the Obama phones, well, the program is ADMINISTERED by a third party. But how is it paid for? And how do you qualify? Oh, oops! Government involvement AGAIN! Imagine that.


Actually, the service is funded via the PRIVATE Telecom Industry, as I ORIGINALLY stated. Look it up. You qualify by meeting the guidelines that are set by the independent not-for-profit company. OOPS on you! Imagine that.

As for SPARC, I never once said it wasn't taxpayer funded, as many other Public Transit services are. It still doesn't give you or anyone else the right or the reason to attack it and say it is a "welfare" benefit when it is designed to provide its services to any and all residents regardless of class or status. Not to mention, many of the riders during the Summer are Foreign workers here for CP and the hotels. I personally would ride it if I were in the service area and had someplace to go that it goes to.


Tell her to stop calling it Obama Phone.

"Ever body in Cleefland got Obama phone"


So you probably call the ACA "obamacare" too right? Just because someone said it doesn't mean its right, or it needs to be repeated. If that's the case then I feel sorry for you for not learning and not thinking for your self and just going with what others say and do. Maybe if you did actually do some of that you would be able to get your own micro loan from the City of Sandusky for a business that you are trying to get off the ground.

That is part of the problem in this country, people use incorrect terminology on important items up for discussion, particularly using "obamasomethingorother" and it gets everyone up in arms over it clouding the real discussions that need to happen.


I agree bnjjad this free phone program started three months before Obama even took office.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

I may be splitting hairs but the phone companies pay the "Obamaphone" tax in the same way I (as a business) pay sales tax. I don't. You do as a customer. You can find the tax for each on your receipt. The company is simply mandated to be a collection agency. That does make you a "taxpayer" and that program funded by taxes, not the good will of a private business.


It is actually not a Tax at all. Part of the money that is contributed by the Telecom Companies is covered by paying customers under a "Universal Service Fee" which is used to cover various contributions and services from the telecom industry, however some companies do not do this and not all of the funds that are given to this program come from paying customers. In no way is this fee a government mandate tax. The only point that the Government has had any say in this program is when the FCC started the non-profit company to administer the program. This "Fee" is also part of an agreement that Telephone companies THEMSELVES setup and agreed upon many moons ago.

Furthermore this program is part of a larger program that is administered by the same non-profit company to provide rural areas and low-income households telecommunication services. They do much more then hand out free cellphones.

SafeLink which is the "obamaphone" program was started under President George Bush, with grants from an INDEPENDENT company created under Bill Clinton which was part of a legacy act under Roosevelt who was influenced by the President Wilson agreement with Telecom companies.

Check the Facts.


The thing is there is a right wing web page that says Obama started the program and that is the only page they will check for facts.

The Hero Zone's picture
The Hero Zone

In the vein above of splitting hairs, you are correct in that (parallels to the ACA aside) it isn't a tax, it is a fee. It is just a government mandated fee that MUST be paid by those consuming the service.

"All telecommunications service providers and certain other providers of telecommunications must contribute to the federal USF based on a percentage of their interstate and international end-user telecommunications revenues."

Now whether or not the communication company wishes to overtly pass the charge along is irrelevant as it is paid for by the customer one way or the other. It is also unique because as a non-profit it can presumably get revenue from donations in some capacity and for whatever reason a company may wish to donate. But a dollar donation doesn't deduct from the fees I pay as a consumer, though it may deduct taxes owed by telecom companies. For example, that is.

That said, romanticizing this as a private ambition to serve a greater good is, in my opinion, a bit of a stretch since it is a mandate from the government to comply with laws the government passed. I totally get why private companies would rather set up their own industry nonprofit to do it. Much like video game companies set up the ESRB, they would rather maintain control of what happens than let a feckless and ignorant government body do it.

I am also well aware of all that this service does, besides be abused by a minority of users. You'll notice I put "Obamaphone" in quotations because just like with "Obamacare" it's a sarcastic term and doesn't further discussion. Perhaps you have seen above and elsewhere that I at least refer to the health law the as ACA and capitalize the p in President despite my grievances with both. I generally agreed with what you said despite my clarification which, after replacing tax with "fee" still stands.

As for the company you speak of's history...

President Wilson, isn't exactly an inspiring source. Again, in my opinion, but that is a conversation for another more relevant venue than here.

Aside from that please remember that I mostly do agree with you above save for my pointing out that "Obamaphones" are hardly an organically-altruistic, privately-funded program.


topcop1991 this article is not about the krunchie pickle and dick tracey I don't know Jason personal life but he was one hell of a cook and golfer and a likeable person so why badger his name any longer? Put your name on your post if you want to put other peoples name on a post that has nothing to do with this article and we can get to the bottom of all this hatred..


I see you are not plastering your name all over the place either. People would be insane to give you their names, the way you praise a violent criminal it is very likely that you are as devoid of any humanity as your hero. None of you guys are at all tough, you are just cowardly predators. Remember how your buddy lured away the only guy that was armed that night, then his buddies went in to rob the defenseless poker game.