Interior Innovations, Utica, NY

Since she opened her full-service office furniture firm, Cueva Contract Inc. (DBA Interior Innovations), in 2012, president and owner Laura Cueva’s goal has been to create spaces for commercial and private clients that are as inspiring as they are innovative. Today, she’s expanding her reach across Upstate New York through the help of Pursuit and Empire State Development’s Bridge to Success program.

Early on, Laura’s clientele consisted largely of educational and healthcare facilities. In 2015, however, new opportunities to bid on government contracts with high visibility opened when Interior Innovations became both minority- and women-owned business enterprise (MWBE) certified. For Laura, it’s a significant strategic advantage, as Interior Innovations can help New York State agencies and businesses aiming to meet both aspects of MWBE goals.

However, Laura ran into a challenge that many small businesses face: Winning contracts can mean tremendous upfront costs for staff, equipment and products. Compounding this, payments can take a long time, typically 90 days or more. This combination often leads to financial hardship for small businesses. Determined to leverage MWBE certification to grow her business, Laura turned to Pursuit for help.

“The people at Pursuit were professional and thorough in their analysis, as you would expect from a financial institution,” says Laura, “but I was pleasantly surprised that they made me feel as if my company was as important as a Fortune 500® company.”

Laura met with her Pursuit loan officer, who worked with her to organize the business’s financials and get the application underway. Interior Innovations secured a loan for $250,000 through Bridge to Success, an Empire State Development program administered by Pursuit that provides short-term working capital loans to New York State-certified MWBEs, helping them competitively bid on and fulfill contracts.

As Laura explains, “Approval for the Bridge to Success program gave us the confidence and a dependable financial resource, leading to our bidding and winning a project with a SUNY university.” In addition to financing orders for the State University of New York contract, Laura hired two employees and has funds available to pursue other projects.

Is Laura satisfied with the help she received? As she says, “In my experience, with the help of the Bridge to Success program and Pursuit, I believe small business entrepreneurship is alive and well in the State of New York.”


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