RUTLAND—Through a combination of state grants and federal loans, Rutland Economic Development Corporation (REDC) has secured $500,000 this year to be made available to Rutland County businesses. REDC is a non-profit, community-based organization whose mission is to encourage and enhance business success in Rutland County.
By means of a nationally competitive application process, USDA Rural Development has provided REDC with $350,000 for REDC’s Revolving Loan Fund. Through the agency’s Intermediary Relending Program, USDA Rural Development provides low-interest loans to local intermediaries that re-lend to businesses to improve economic conditions and create jobs in rural communities. These additional funds will allow REDC to continue to use its local lending expertise to ensure that federal funds actively support promising businesses and workforce development across Rutland County.
The REDC board of directors voted unanimously to contribute a 25 percent match to these funds, bringing the total amount of available new loan funds to $437,500. Added to existing revolving loan funds, REDC now has $750,000 to lend through the program.
To help fulfill its mission, REDC provides businesses with fixed-rate loans of between $5,000 and $150,000. As loans are repaid, they are reinvested by REDC in the form of new loans to other businesses. Funds through the Revolving Loan Fund are available for both existing or start-up businesses and support a wide range of initiatives, from working capital to installing new machinery to purchasing property.
REDC works extensively with local lenders, often serving to help meet the unmet funding needs of a business that’s unable to obtain adequate sources of traditional financing. Among the projects funded in 2017, REDC partnered with the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA), the National Bank of Middlebury, and the town of Brandon to finance a $3 million retention and expansion project for Olivia’s Croutons, now in Brandon. Olivia’s Croutons will now increase their production and double their workforce.
“This was an aggressive expansion and it was the next logical step for our business,” said Francie Caccavo, co-owner and president of Olivia’s Croutons. “Structuring the financing for this next step was a complicated process, and without all of the financing partners working together this couldn’t have happened for us. REDC was a crucial piece in this.”
“The town of Brandon was in full support of the expansion of Olivia’s Croutons and putting resources behind it was a no-brainer for us, but we needed multiple collaborators on board to make it work,” said Bill Moore, economic development officer for Brandon. “The future is bright for Brandon, and as we continue to grow it’s great to have regional partners like REDC on our team.”
In addition to securing federal funds, REDC has connected four Rutland County businesses to $61,500 in state grants through the Regional Economic Development Grant program. Grants through this program are available to regional development corporations, municipalities, and nonprofits to create job growth and spur improvements to buildings and community facilities. Maximum grant amounts are $25,000 per project and require a 1:1 matching investment. All grants have been awarded for the current year, but the program is expected to resume in mid-2018.
REDC applied for and received grants on behalf of Ann Clark Cookie Cutters, the Rutland Area Food Co-op, Valente & Seward CPAs, and Hirschmann Windows and Doors.
Rolf Hirschmann, owner of Hirschmann Windows and Doors, which designs and manufactures custom wood windows and doors in West Rutland, purchased Green Mountain Glass, LLC in early 2017 and moved the business from Charlestown, N.H., to Rutland. Green Mountain Insulated Glass, Inc., will operate independent from H. Hirschmann Ltd, but the two companies will share resources. The grant will be used to help offset the costs for equipment and facilities improvements for the new business.
“The grant REDC has connected us with will help us grow and add jobs,” said Hirschmann. “The increased efficiencies created will grow customers and sales for both companies, leading to more local jobs. We appreciate the support REDC, Rutland City and the State of Vermont has given us as we continue to grow our businesses in the Rutland Region.”
REDC has seen an increase in lending demand and grant inquiries in 2017 compared to previous years, and expects this to continue into the new year.
“We are seeing demand for these resources continuing to climb, especially with our revolving loan fund, and that’s obviously a good indicator,” said Lyle Jepson, executive director of REDC. “The recipients of these funds are businesses from a variety of sectors who are in a position to grow, and these resources will help facilitate that growth. There’s every reason to think this momentum will continue.”
Photo courtesy of REDC
Administrators from the Rutland Economic Development Corporation will use the funds to invest in local businesses.