ALABAMA SMALL BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY FUND
Through a grant from the CDFI Fund and in conjunction with the Appalachian Regional Commission, this fund provides loans to underserved small businesses that are unable to access traditional financing statewide in Alabama.
New Entrepreneur Turns
Passion into Family Business
JMK MARTIAL ARTS & FITNESS
Charles Owens’ dad started studying Jung Moo Kwan, which literally means “Righteous Martial Arts,” in Huntsville in the 1980s. He kept the practice strong by bringing classes to churches wherever he was serving as the preacher.
“Lucky for me I grew up in the practice, so whenever doors were open for class, I was there training,” says Owens. “As I got older, dad let me help teach and my passion for martial arts just kept growing.”
After getting married and moving to Hartselle, Alabama, Owens spent more than a decade teaching at the local Civic Center. As classes grew, sharing space and scheduling around other programs became more difficult. Owens and his wife Meghan knew it was time to purchase their own space.
After months of searching for rental properties to house the studio, the Owens family decided to buy a historic building right in downtown Hartselle. As a new entrepreneur, Owens had trouble securing a traditional loan, but his banker told him about Pathway Lending.
“I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit,” said Owens. “But once we started having kids, I wanted to build something we could all be proud of that also let my kids see the importance of hard work.”
With a loan from Pathway, Owens purchased and renovated the building, and bought all the equipment he needed for the new dojo.
“It’s been wonderful to work with Pathway – they always go the extra mile, not just with financing, but also with helping me with questions on my finances,” says Owens.
Now an LLC, JMK Martial Arts & Fitness is uniquely recognized as one of just 31 authentic martial arts institutes by the World KiDo Federation.
Since opening the dedicated studio, JMK has doubled their enrollment and recently launched an instructor development program to keep up with growth. “We’re creating an opportunity for people to have a side income down the road,” says Owens. And now, all three of his children are enrolled in JMK classes.
“It’s humbling to take my dad’s legacy and passing that on to my own next generation,” says Owens. “Sowing the seeds and watching this practice grow is humbling, but I consider it an honor.”