STAFFORD TOWNSHIP, N.J. (March 20, 2019) – Unity Bank has provided a Small Business Administration (SBA) loan to Amber and Kalil O’Neal of Barnegat to fund the opening of Little Graduates Preschool and Learning Center L.L.C. at 935 North Main Street. Based in Clinton, Unity has branches in Bergen, Hunterdon, Middlesex, Somerset, Union and Warren counties in New Jersey and Lehigh and Northampton counties in Pennsylvania.
The center, the first business for the couple, occupies roughly 3,000-square-feet in a new retail plaza in the Manahawkin section of the township, said Kalil O’Neal, Little Graduates’ business/operations manager. O’Neal said the facility has more space available for lease should the business need to expand.
“This is our first experience with Unity Bank,” said O’Neal. “We reached out to multiple banks willing to help a small business start-up. Our experience with Unity Bank thus far has been amazing. They took a chance on us when others turned a blind eye. Also, we feel as though they have committed so much energy, time, and effort to guide us in the right direction to ensure that we were in the best position to succeed. We appreciate all the individuals who have helped us along the way because they have greatly made an impact on us.”
O’Neal has more than 18 years of military experience in the U.S. Army and currently works in contracting for the Department of the Navy. He currently serves in the New Jersey National Guard and O’Neal noted that Little Graduates will offer a discount to active duty military and veteran families. He earned a Bachelor's Degree in Business from The College of New Jersey and a Master's Degree in Acquisition from Webster University.
Amber O’Neal, who runs the daily operations of the center, has more than 12 years of early childhood education industry experience. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Early Childhood Education from Liberty University and working toward her Master's Degree in School Administration and Supervision. Amber is a member of the National Association for Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and the New Jersey Association for the Education of Young Children (NJAEYC). She plans to work toward her National Administrator Credential® in early childhood education.
“We wish Amber and Kalil the best of luck with their new business,” said Unity Bank President & CEO James A. Hughes. “As a community bank, we are committed to working with small businesses whether they are just starting out or looking to grow operations. It’s particularly rewarding when we can help customers start their first business.”
Little Graduates Preschool and Learning Center can serve children ages 6 weeks to 5 years of age. Programs include before and after school services, summer camp, seasonal care, drop-in/temporary care and a military childcare program. Discounts are available for active military/veteran families enrolling more than one child.
“Amber has always wanted to open an early childhood education center because she loves working with children and families. I have always wanted to own a business,” said O’Neal. “For the past four or five years, my wife and I have been trying to find a location to open a childcare center to no avail. We noticed this building was being developed in the next town over from where we live and decided the location was perfect because it was in a growing area.”
For more information on Little Graduates, please visit https:/www./lilgraduate.com/ or call (315) 767-9512.
Unity participates in the 7(a) Loan Program, SBA’s primary program to help start-up and existing small businesses obtain financing when they might not be eligible for business loans through normal lending channels. The bank also participates in the SBA 504 Loan program, an economic development program that offers small businesses long-term, fixed-rate financing used to acquire fixed assets for expansion or modernization. Unity Bank is consistently among the top 10 of New Jersey SBA lenders in loan volume. The program also serves parts of Pennsylvania and is expanding into New York.