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When Jess reached out to Choice for help fixing the broken water meter in her store, she received more than just the needed repairs.

Small Business, Big Impact

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Jess Balsdon has always been an active supporter of her surrounding rural small businesses. She herself is a small business owner. Jess’s Junk is a boutique in Osnabrock, North Dakota, where Jess creates refurbished, repurposed, and recycled home décor. In addition to operating her own shop, she hosts a Junk Hop twice a year, an event that promotes the surrounding small businesses and boutiques in northeastern North Dakota.

Many small business owners felt the economic impact of the pandemic last year. Jess was already experiencing decreased foot traffic through her store and had to cancel last fall’s Junk Hop when a water meter burst in the basement of her store.

Jess's Junk

“It’s an older building and the water meter had burst in the basement,” Jess said. “My husband just happened to stop at the store that night and he said, ‘There’s water everywhere in the basement.’”

With the pandemic hurting her business, the expense of repairing her water meter was another challenge to overcome. Jess submitted a wish through Choice’s Wishing Well program and we were eager to fund the needed repairs to support a local small business.

The proper repairs have been made and all is well again, but at Choice we found another way to help Jess’s small business. We know that navigating the COVID-19 pandemic was difficult for many small business owners. When COVID-19 started to unfold in our communities, businesses of all sizes found themselves faced with uncertainty.

I wasn’t really able to be open a lot. When COVID stayed around longer and people weren’t going back to work, home decor was no longer the top priority.

“I wasn’t really able to be open a lot,” Jess said. “Right away when COVID hit everybody was like, ‘I’m going to redo my house. I’m going to remodel this.’ Then when COVID stayed around longer and people weren’t going back to work, home decor was no longer the top priority.”

The Paycheck Protection Program was established by the Small Business Administration to provide relief to small businesses, but Jess thought she would be ineligible to receive any loans as her business doesn’t have any employees.

However, Choice team members Sherry Buchweitz, Tara McFadden, and Todd Borchardt in Langdon, ND, came together to make sure Jess’s business got the help it deserved.

“They were super awesome,” Jess said. “Todd said, ‘I think if she files schedule C for taxes, she should be able to get it.’ Then Sherry had me come into the office with my bank statements and taxes and she did everything for me. It was super simple.”

It’s really helped my business. I was very thankful for them bringing it up to me because otherwise I wouldn’t have known.

Choice Bank was able to obtain two PPP loans for Jess. In total, Choice secured PPP loans for over 4,000 local businesses, helping to protect more than 65,000 jobs in our communities.

“It’s really helped my business,” Jess said. “I was very thankful for them bringing it up to me because otherwise I wouldn’t have known. I just didn’t think that I qualified for it.”

With her water meter fixed and PPP funding for her business, Jess looks forward to continuing to expand her craft, support her local small businesses, and make the next Junk Hop bigger than the last.


Wishing well coin

The Choice Bank Wishing Well is now accepting wishes for 2021! Ready to cast yours? Visit choicewishingwell.com and let us know who you would like to help out in your community.

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