When Gustavo Calado arrived in the United States at the age of 18, it marked an inflection point in a story with a consistent plotline. Born and raised in Brazil, Calado swam competitively throughout his childhood and teen years, swimming toward a lifelong goal of owning his own aquatics center and passing on his love for the sport.
Initially established as a decentralized swim school, Planet Swim has grown into a full-service private swimming and tennis club. The 40,000-square-foot state-of-the-art facility features seven clay tennis courts, an Olympic-sized pool, an indoor teaching pool, a gymnastics room, locker rooms, and more. Located in Ponte Vedra, Florida, the beautifully appointed training and event center is a short drive from Jacksonville in northern St. Johns County, the No. 1 ranked healthiest county in the state of Florida and one of the fastest-growing communities in the country.
Despite the obvious strengths of the project, Calado says the biggest hurdle of all was gaining access to capital. Being of foreign descent with limited credit history, it was surprisingly difficult to find a financing partner that was able to catch his vision. But little did he know (and despite its reputation as an affluent suburb), Planet Swim’s Ponte Vedra address qualified as “rural” according to the U.S. government, unlocking special financing through the USDA’s Business & Industry Program.
Working with the USDA’s government-guaranteed program, North Avenue Capital provided $5 million in the form of an affordable loan to construct Planet Swim’s flagship location and the world-class amenities now offered to members and guests. What’s more, as Plan Swim serves generations of active, competitive athletes, it also is equipping families and the special needs community along the First Coast with life-saving water safety training.
For the NAC team, the deal was sweetened by its close proximity to its national headquarters, also in Ponte Vedra.
NAC Founder Ben Chatraw explains, “this loan is a great example of how NAC is partnering with entrepreneurs and the USDA to finance projects that bring meaningful economic development and job creation to communities across the country, including those right here in our backyard.”