Josefa Carolina Gonzalez has taken her seven-year-old Passion Flowers business to the next level by purchasing the downtown Haverhill, property that houses her floral shop.
Like other business owners, Gonzalez found herself short when the opportunity to buy the 154 Washington St. building came up last fall. She also required more refrigeration space to store flower inventory to avoid turning down what amounted to 40% of her orders.
She called on Rep. Andy X. Vargas for help, who introduced her to Mill Cities Community Investments and the Haverhill Loan Fund. The community development financial institution was founded by Latino leaders in 2008 to bridge the capital access gap in low-to-moderate-income and under-resourced communities. It serves Haverhill, Lawrence and Lowell.
While Gonzalez opened Passion Flowers in 2016, she studied floristry and interior design at a young age in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. She began making floral arrangements at a from her home for hotels, friends and family. In 1991, she opened her own business in Santo Domingo where she operated for five years before immigrating to the United States in 1996.
Mill Cities Community Investments worked with Gonzalez to create a business plan that would help her qualify for two small business loans totaling to $250,000 to purchase the property, buy additional refrigerators and make other improvements.