During the first quarter of 2018, the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) approved $8.6 million in loans to help communities revitalization via commercial, agricultural, and small business projects throughout Vermont.
“VEDA financing was approved to help a Randolph manufacturer expand and add a number of well-paying jobs for Vermonters,” said Jo Bradley, VEDA’s Chief Executive Officer. “In addition, a vacant former commercial property will be brought back into productive use in a Vermont downtown, and several agricultural and small business ventures will undertake expansion plans.”
Included among the projects approved for VEDA direct commercial financing are:
- Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation for LEDdynamics, Inc., Randolph – VEDA approved $3.8 million in financing through the Authority’s Local Development Corporation Loan Program, which provides financing to nonprofit local and regional development corporations to build facilities for lease to identified eligible tenants, or to plan and/or develop industrial parks. The loan to Green Mountain Economic Development Corporation (GMEDC) was approved as partial financing for the purchase of 6.7 acres of industrial park land in Randolph on which a 27,613 square-foot industrial building will be constructed as a new manufacturing facility for lease to LEDdynamics. Additional project financing capacity is being sought by the Town of Randolph through the Community Development Block Grant program, and by the Randolph Area Community Development Corporation. An Efficiency Vermont grant is also part of the project financing. In existence since 2000, LEDdynamics, a manufacturer of custom-engineered lighting solutions for a number of industries throughout the U.S., needs to grow in order to meet product demand. The new building would more than double its manufacturing space. The company currently has 65 employees, and that number is expected to rise significantly once the project is completed;
- Buttermilk, LLC, Richmond – VEDA approved partial project financing of $626,400 for the $3.2 million redevelopment of the former Richmond Creamery property in Richmond. Located within Richmond’s Village Commercial District, the 6.7 acre property has been vacant for approximately nineteen years and its redevelopment has been a key goal of the municipality. With over 25 years of experience, project developer Buttermilk, LLC focuses on turning unused, contaminated sites into productive, environmentally-sound communities. Community National Bank is also providing partial financing, and the project has been approved for grants from the Community Development Block Grant Program, the Vermont Agency of Commerce and Community Development’s brownfields remediation program, and the Town of Richmond. Extensive environmental remediation work has been underway, and once that work is completed and certified, new multi-phase development plans include construction of up to 45 residential units as well as construction of 70,000 square feet of commercial space. The new downtown infill development will also utilize net-zero environmental construction technology; and
- Seedsheet, Middlebury – VEDA approved $125,000 in financing through the Authority’s Entrepreneurial Loan Program to provide working capital for a growing startup company, Seedsheet, that manufactures garden kits which include dissolvable pods containing organic vegetable and herb seeds. The seeds are embedded within a weed-blocking fabric for easy planting in gardens, raised beds or containers. Founded in 2014 with a mission to “make it ridiculously easy” to grow good food, Seedsheet will use the loan proceeds to purchase raw materials, as well as for production, packaging, sales displays and other operating expenses. In 2017, Seedsheet appeared on the television show, Shark Tank, and a deal made there resulted in two successful appearances on the QVC shoppers’ network channel. Seedsheet wholesales its products to large home and garden retail stores, and retails its own products through its website and Amazon.com.
Financing totaling $1.4 million were approved through the Authority’s agricultural loan program, the Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation (VACC). Included among the approvals was Champlain Orchards, Inc. in Shoreham, which received financing of $389,000 to help Champlain Orchards improve the final four 7,000-bushel controlled-atmosphere apple storage rooms in the orchard’s storage building. Insulated panels and equipment will be purchased and installed, and another existing building will be renovated to become a machine/repair shop.
The project will also include the purchase and/or upgrade of other equipment for use in the orchard and in the packing and processing facility. VACC financing has long been a part of Champlain Orchards’ growth. Champlain Orchards has consistently expanded since production of its first apple crop in 2000. In addition to apples, the farm grows European and Asian pears, tart cherries, plums, peaches, and organic pick-your-own berries. The farm also makes and sells ice and hard cider, pies, cider donuts, apple butter, and apple cider syrup. The current project will help the business accommodate increasing crop harvest as more recent plantings of apple trees come into production.
Loans totaling $609,000 were made through Authority’s VT 504 Loan Program which, with SBA’s approval, makes loans to eligible and qualified borrowers. Loan approvals under this program include:
- TimberTiger, LLC, Underhill – A loan of $125,000 was approved as partial financing for TimberTiger’s purchase of a log skidder and log loader to enhance its land-clearing and forestry production capacity. TimberTiger’s customers include landowners looking to harvest timber on their property and large contractors looking for land clearing services. The business will also work with foresters to bid on private timber sales and subcontract with large contractors on land clearing projects; and
- Liambru Tasty, LLC, Proctor – A loan of $98,500 was approved to partially-finance the purchase of machinery, equipment and inventory needed for home-based craft brewers to begin producing commercially. Liambru Tasty will become a 10.5-barrel craft brewery, doing its own canning and distribution. The company’s craft beers will be distributed initially to local pubs and beverage stores, and retailed part-time by the brewery owners in a tasting room at a family-owned historic commercial building in Cuttingsville.
Loans totaling nearly $1.4 million were approved through VEDA’s Small Business Loan Program, which assists growing Vermont small businesses that are unable to access adequate sources of conventional financing. Among the approvals was the Bethel Central Market in Bethel, which received small business loans of $94,000 as partial financing for the purchase of the real estate, fixed business assets and inventory of the long-established Bethel Central Market.
The market, which has been a central fixture on Main Street in Bethel for over 70 years, will continue to operate under new owners. Bethel Central Market is a full-service neighborhood grocery store offering a wide range of products, including convenience groceries, fresh meats and cheese, beer and wine, cigarettes, lottery tickets and household items. The store’s new owners plan to add a full-service deli and offer assorted bake goods, among other improvements. Mascoma Savings Bank is also providing financing for the project.
In addition, $564,428 in financing was approved through the Authority’s Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund, which provides funds to repair or improve existing privately-owned drinking water systems, and $34,200 was approved through the Authority’s Commercial Energy Loan Program, which helps Vermont businesses finance qualifying renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvement projects.
The Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA) is Vermont’s economic development finance lender. Created by the Vermont General Assembly in 1974, VEDA’s mission is “to contribute to the creation and retention of quality jobs in Vermont by providing loans and other financial support to eligible and qualified Vermont industrial, commercial and agricultural enterprises.”
VEDA offers a wide range of low-cost lending options for Vermont businesses and farms of all sizes, and the Authority’s lending solutions are customized to each borrower’s individual needs. Whether in the form of direct loans, tax-exempt bond issuance or loan guarantee support, VEDA’s innovative financing programs help ensure that Vermont businesses and farms have the capital they need to grow and succeed. VEDA most often lends in conjunction with banks and other financing partners, helping to stimulate economic development activity in Vermont.
Since inception, VEDA has provided over $2.49 billion in financing assistance to thousands of eligible Vermont entrepreneurs, manufacturers, small businesses, family farms, and agricultural enterprises.
Photo of Vermont countryside via Adobe Stock.