Two firms said they will provide $10 million to a Vision One Credit Union program that offers loans to optometrists looking to finance first-time practice purchases, partnership buy-ins and refinancing options.
A joint effort between the $53 million Vision One in Sacramento, Calif., Essilor of America Inc. and VSP Vision Care, the Vision Loans Program has distributed nearly $58 million since 2003 in financial support to optometrists who want to enter private practice and those who want to successfully transition out.
According to the program’s partners, all loan payments are reinvested back into the program to ensure the continued success and growth of private practice optometry.
Despite an uncertain economic outlook, demand for the program remains strong due to the unique capital loan access it provides, which can be difficult to obtain through traditional bank lenders, according to Essilor, a Dallas-based manufacturer of optical lenses.
Still, since the beginning of the recession, more than $37 million in practice purchase loans have been funded, the company said.
Vision One said the partners have collectively committed to providing $60 million to the Vision Loans program.
Howard Purcell, vice president of customer development at Essilor, said the dynamics of the optometric practice today present some unique challenges to graduating eyecare professionals. The latest commitment will help thousands more enter private practice, he added.
Stuart Thomas, VSP Global board chairman, said the Vision Loans program helps makes certain that independent optometry can grow and renew itself year after year.
VSP is an eye care benefit plan provider based in Sacramento, Calif.
Founded in 1951, Vision One serves more than 2,000 members.