At a time when many small businesses are struggling, Maternal Wellness Center is a success story as bright as the yellow paint on its newly renovated, Victorian-era office space in Hatboro, PA. This month the business will start enjoying three months of covered payments, with no repayment necessary, on the SBA portion of the $341,000 total project used to secure the commercial building.
“We support parents, and parents are getting clobbered right now on every front. When COVID-19 hit, our growth curve went up immediately, since we were a sector being called upon urgently to help,” says Kellie Wicklund, owner and clinical director of Maternal Wellness Center. “We saw another spike in demand last fall, with some daycares closing again and some schools never reopening. Six months into the pandemic, parents were feeling overwhelmed, and it wasn’t letting up.”
Before COVID, Maternal Wellness Center had outgrown the 1,000 square-foot space it rented for six years across from Abington Hospital. Then when Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf announced statewide shutdowns, Maternal Wellness Center converted seamlessly to telehealth services within 12 hours. With many patients enjoying virtual visits, Wicklund began looking into buying a new 2,400 square-foot space. Now, under the Economic Aid Act, Wicklund’s SBA 504 payments will be covered for 3 months. She’ll plan to resume regular payments at under 3% interest, on the loan facilitated by Seedcopa in partnership with Republic Bank.
Maternal Wellness Center supports women and families through all stages of parenthood, augmenting traditional perinatal health care with support services including counseling and psychotherapy for peripartum mood and anxiety disorders, childbirth education, support groups, therapeutic massage and more. Wicklund says the business has seen 114% growth from 2018 to 2020, adding and sustaining 16 jobs for women. Six of those jobs were added during the pandemic, to assist patients during this difficult time.
“We really wanted to invest in supporting our patrons, and coming up with the 20% down payment required with a traditional loan to purchase our new building would have put the company in a fragile position financially. The SBA 504 made a huge difference,” says Wicklund, whose new space offers easier access to Bucks County, Montgomery County and Philadelphia patrons, as well as more space for patients who require in-person care.
“Our workers are frontline, helping mothers as they face trauma happening during a pandemic birth experience. You have women delivering in masks and laboring in masks; wondering how having COVID will affect their unborn babies; having a baby when you can’t see grandparents, family or friends for support. Some grandparents still haven’t met their grandchildren,” Wicklund says.
Maternal Wellness Center has moved all support groups online, adding groups for new parents, life after loss, and parenting in a pandemic. In addition, Maternal Wellness has launched “The Collective,” which provides the complementary cares services of several other local, women-owned businesses under one roof as well as additional resources.
“I was up against people who thought of an SBA loan as a ‘last resort’ because of its in-depth application process. Seedcopa supports you every step of the way. Even my lawyer was a convert in the end,” says Wicklund.