$450,000 in loans aim to stimulate local economy

ADDISON COUNTY — Eight area businesses needing cash for new equipment, inventory and/or workers to take their respective operations to the next level are getting some help from the Addison County Economic Development Corp. The ACEDC has approved a total of $450,000 in loans to the firms, which are located in Vergennes, Bridport, Bristol and Middlebury.
Robin Scheu, executive director of the ACEDC, is pleased to see great demand for the ACEDC loans.
“Last year, we did more loans than the previous three years combined,” she said. “To me, that means the economy is coming back and businesses are feeling confident.”
The money in question will primarily flow through ACEDC’s revolving loan funds. Six of the eight loan packages also feature participation from other financial partners, such as the Vermont Community Loan Fund, the Vermont Economic Development Authority and the National Bank of Middlebury.
Businesses receiving loans this year include Danforth Pewter of Middlebury, for $50,000; Full Sun Co. of Middlebury, for $15,000; Good Point Recycling of Middlebury, for $40,000; Nathaniel Electronics of Vergennes, for $50,000; Poe Wovens of Bridport, two loans adding up to $40,000; Stonecutter Spirits of Middlebury, for $100,000; Vermont Farm Table of Bristol, for $38,000; and Vermont Tree Goods of Bristol, for $40,000.
The aforementioned loan recipients — most of which have been profiled in past issues of the Addison Independent — make products ranging from infant carriers to gin.
Scheu explained that the loans in question are often just a small portion of the total sum the business is seeking to raise for a particular project or program. When the applying business has maxed out what it can borrow from a conventional lender, it can come to the ACEDC.
“Our loans are the gap financing a business needs to be able to do the projects they want to do,” she said. “The banks are able to lend a certain chunk, and we try to fill the gap.”
Those loans come at a 7-percent interest rate, according to Scheu. The ACEDC maintains four separate revolving loan accounts from which to dispense the funds. The principal and interest collected from the borrowers is placed back into the revolving loan funds, which are growing to offer more opportunities to other area entrepreneurs on the rise.
Scheu offered some basic details on how the businesses would use their loan money.
Danforth, she said, will invest some of the money into computer software and hardware upgrades to improve efficiency in its operations. Danforth is a world-renowned manufacturer of pewter objects.
Full Sun Company has located into the former Vermont Soap Co. building on Middlebury’s Exchange Street. It will soon produce thousands of gallons of non-GMO — and eventually organic — sunflower and canola oils for use in a variety of cooking preparations. Full Sun will be using the funds to buy a machine that will wash the large, stainless steel drums used to store and export its seed oils.
Good Point, according to Scheu, has reclaimed the statewide contract for electronic recyclables after a one-year hiatus. The company is hiring and training new staff to take on the added workload.
“It’s nice to see (Good Point) back on track,” Scheu said.
Nathaniel Electronics has developed some very popular tools that emit small beams of light for use by dentists and other medical professionals, according to Scheu. The company will use its ACEDC loan, in part, to ramp up production of this light technology to meet the increasing demand.
Nancy Sunderland is a former U.S. Marine, mother of five and founder of Poe Wovens. The company, headquartered in a barn on the family farm in Bridport, specializes in woven baby wraps that help parents comfortably and stylishly carry their infants or toddlers. The $40,000 loan will help Sunderland purchase more raw materials and market her products.
Sunderland’s military connection has helped her record some sales, often in very touching ways.
“She’s had calls from people to wear the wraps when they meet their husbands coming back from (deployments),” Scheu noted.
Sunderland received a call this past spring from the sister of one of the four U.S. soldiers killed in a helicopter crash while delivering aid in Nepal following the devastating earthquake that hit that nation on April 25. The woman ordered a star-spangled baby wrap to wear during the repatriation of her brother’s remains, according to Scheu.
Meanwhile, Stonecutter Spirits has now received a combined total of $200,000 in loans through the ACEDC. The most recent $100,000 will be used for start-up costs and the purchase of inventory for its gin operation.
Vermont Farm Table was founded in Bristol by Dustin and Jess Glasscoe. The company specializes in handmade, custom tables and kitchenware handmade in Vermont, using traditional mortise-and-tenon joinery and finished with environmentally friendly oils. The ACEDC loan will help the company grow, according to Scheu.
Vermont Tree Goods, operated by John Monks, produces lumber and furniture using salvaged wood, according to Scheu. The business has a large saw that allows the business to offer “live edge” lumber and wood products. The term “live edge” means the natural edge of the wood is included into the design of the piece.
“He is poised for growth, and will be hiring in the next year or so,” Scheu said.
Reporter John Flowers is at [email protected].

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