EyeCare Center of Martin

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The Eyecare Center of Martin offers comprehensive eye health services for all ages. Dr. Danny Donaldson and Dr. Russell Gilliam, both Southern College of Optometry graduates in Memphis, embarked on the joint practice in 2008.  As the successful partnership grew, the business began experiencing growing pains due to the limitation of much-needed office space.  Once the perfect location for expansion was purchased, but before the EyeCare Center of Martin could relocate, the pandemic struck. The business was closed to help “flatten the curve” during the pandemic.  Several weeks later, the business was allowed to reopen but at half capacity due to state mandates. In the best of times, expanding to a new facility strains cash flow, and the shutdown had seriously impacted the liquidity of the business. 

 The doctors have been clients of the TSBDC at UT Martin since 2014. When the pandemic struck Russell and Danny knew where they could turn for advice. Landy, the TSBDC at UT Martin REED Center director, talked through the Paycheck Protection Program with them and they submitted their application. When the program reviewed the accounts, a clerical mistake was discovered in the disaster funding application.  Dr. Donaldson and Dr. Gilliam were told the miscalculation could not be resolved.  The TSBDC, with assistance from the Tennessee Small Business Administration staff in Nashville, had success in finding a solution to resolve the application discrepancy.  The additional funding provided much-needed resources for reopening their business and preparing for their office relocation. The TSBDC also provided Cares Act marketing assistance through our resource partner program as well as advisement of EIDL loans.   

 Through the assistance of the TSBDC and disaster funding The Eyecare Center of Martin was able to sustain the practice through the pandemic, retain a staff of eight employees and begin a growth plan. In 2022, the business expanded to accommodate more patients as a result of its sustainability and success.

 “That year was a struggle as a small business owner in rural West Tennessee,” said owner Dr. Russell Gilliam. “Dr. Donaldson and I would just look at each other and wonder how we would make it through the financial hurdle. Luckily, the TSBDC at the UT Martin REED Center helped guide us through the process to help keep our business afloat. It is a blessing to know that the Center is located here and has our back in our time of need.”

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