My name is John Clover. I am a US Army veteran of the Persian Gulf War and a pastry chef with over 30 years of professional baking experience. I am searching for financial assistance with the funding I need to open a brick-and-mortar bakery business in Billings, MT. My small cake decorating business (Absaroka Cake Company) was doing very well pre-COVID. But once April 2020 hit, we had all of our cake bookings canceled for the entire year. I struggled to make ends meet, selling everything I could just to afford paying rent. I had applied to every resource I could for financial assistance but was denied any federal funding through the SBA's COVID relief package. During the shutdown, I tried to remain positive and productive. I reached out to the SBDC (Small Business Development Center) and the VBOC (Veteran Business Outreach Center) and received a lot of assistance in training and business plan development. They helped me polish my resume and business plan in an effort to help me when I applied for SBA funding for my dream, an actual brick-and-mortar bakery. Unfortunately, I have been struggling with getting the approval to secure an SBA loan and have also spoken with many of the local banks here in Billings, MT to try to establish some sort of line of credit or loan to jumpstart the process of launching my business. Up until now, I continue to operate from my home. My phone continues to ring with calls regarding wedding cakes for the upcoming 2022 wedding season. I know that this is a business that will succeed and that will grow as I am able to expand my baked good offerings. I just need the extra financial "nudge" to get into a storefront and get the business ready for this summer's wedding season.

I am searching for $40,500 to help me with the initial cost of goods, property lease, property improvement, and signage. If there is any way you can help me achieve my dream, I would be overly grateful. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and consider donating.