Being able to provide quality comprehensive eye care to his patients without constraints or limits was what propelled Dr. Richard Cross to open his own vision care business over 20 years ago. A graduate of Michigan College of Optometry at Ferris State University, Dr. Cross offers laser refractive surgical correction, in addition to fitting contacts for patients with astigmatism, bifocals, dry eyes and keratoconus – a condition where the clear tissue on the front of the eye (cornea) bulges outward.
Also active in research studies exploring eye health and on various community boards, Dr. Cross founded the Eye Health Institute in 2001, a nonprofit dedicated to providing free vision services to the poor of Jamaica. This work is closely related to his partnership with the University of Michigan’s 3rd Century Initiative Project to help improve healthcare in developing countries.
When Dr. Cross first decided to open his business, Boulder Vision Associates, he needed financing and found Colorado Enterprise Fund (CEF) through the Small Business Development Center. Over the years, Dr. Cross has qualified for several loans to get through periods of cash flow shortages due to health insurance repayment schedules, the recent recession and local disasters affecting patients, and changes in the Affordable Care Act.
“CEF has people who actually have been in business and know the pitfalls,” remarked Dr. Cross. “They can guide new and old businesses like mine in the right direction.” He also worked with CEF’s Business Acceleration Services (BAS) team of consultants to refine his accounting practices.
Over the years, CEF financing has helped Dr. Cross grow his business, including a move from his original location to his current office which he purchased in 2008. His staff also grew from two initial employees to six; he now employs half that. “I would like to expand my staff but the cost of living in Boulder is high so it’s difficult to recruit and retain employees,” he stated. That challenge, plus greater competition from corporate healthcare in the area keeps Dr. Cross focused on his mission: finding and retaining patients who are still looking for quality comprehensive eye care for the entire family.
This is a big reason Dr. Cross is so involved with his community and the recipient of several awards for providing eye care to the underserved in Boulder and Jamaica. “There’s lots of growth in our area, especially for small business, and microloans are an excellent way to foster this entrepreneurship,” Dr. Cross affirmed. “CEF is one of the most valuable resources we have in Colorado for business, and my success is an example of that.”