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Local businesses receive VEDA financing

ADDISON COUNTY — Three local businesses — one in Vergennes, one in Bristol and one in Brandon — are among more than a half-dozen Vermont outfits that will share in $7.1 million in economic development financings recently approved by the Vermont Economic Development Authority.
Last week VEDA has announced that it was making the loans and loan guarantees to support manufacturing, agricultural, energy and small business projects throughout Vermont. 
Among the recipients were Olivia’s Crouton Co., which recently moved from Middlebury to Brandon; Shacksbury Holdings Inc., which is opening a cider bottling facility in Vergennes, and Vermont Tree Goods LLC of Bristol.
“VEDA is pleased to be making financing investments in Vermont’s manufacturing sector, where new jobs for Vermonters will be created,” said VEDA Chief Executive Officer Jo Bradley in a press release. “In addition, the authority is pleased to provide financing to help start-up businesses grow, farmers strengthen their operations, and sustainable energy projects go forward.”
Olivia’s was approved for loans totaling $999,400 to help the company meet growing production demands through the purchase and renovation of a 36,000-square-foot existing manufacturing facility on 11 acres in Brandon. New equipment purchases will also be part of the now $2.75 million expansion plan, for which the National Bank of Middlebury is providing additional financing support. 
Begun in 1991, Olivia’s Crouton Company produces wholesome, homemade-style bread croutons known by retail customers and food service professionals alike for the products’ uniqueness and high quality.  Over 25 years, the company has grown from a home kitchen operation to its present dual locations — a 4,500-square-foot converted barn in New Haven and an additional 5,000-square-feet of leased space in Middlebury.  The new project facility will allow Olivia’s to expand its product offerings, and increase its co-packing capabilities with other Vermont brands, as well.
In addition to VEDA and bank financing, $150,000 of the project will be financed by Rutland Economic Development Corp. and $70,000 by the Brandon Revolving Loan Fund. Olivia’s Crouton Company has seven employees, a number expected to grow to 18 within three years of the expansion project.
Shacksbury, which makes hard cider, was approved for a $150,000 loan to partially fund the purchase of machinery and equipment for, and leasehold improvements to, its new hard cider processing, bottling and tasting facility to be located in a portion of the former Kennedy Brothers building in Vergennes. The financing will also provide the company with working capital for the fit-up of the space.
Established in 2013 in Shoreham, Shacksbury imports and produces premium hard cider that is marketed through beverage distributors in 12 states in the U.S., and in two Canadian provinces. In addition to the VEDA financing, Shacksbury Holdings will also receive financing from the Addison County Economic Development Corporation, and a grant from the Vermont Regional Economic Development Program.
Bristol-based Vermont Tree Goods was approved for a $50,000 working capital loan to help grow the business, which is a start-up specialty lumber mill and maker of “live edge” wood furniture. Using a custom-designed sawmill that reduces the environmental impact of milling, Vermont Tree Goods efficiently recycles unwanted logs from large heritage trees and transforms them into high-quality specialty lumber, millwork and furniture.
Vermont Tree Goods’ furniture products are sold in and outside Vermont through multiple distribution channels.
Other projects approved by VEDA for financing assistance include:
•  A $1.5 million loan to Chroma Technology Corp. as part of the company’s planned $21.7 million expansion in Bellows Falls.
•  Financing of $294,176 to help Rhino Foods of Burlington purchase new machinery and equipment and make process and packaging improvements at the company’s Industrial Avenue manufacturing facility.
•  $128,500 was approved to help Flex-A-Seal Inc. of Essex Junction purchase the property adjacent to the company’s existing manufacturing facility.
•  Agricultural loans totaling $1.4 million also were approved through the authority’s agricultural loan program, the Vermont Agricultural Credit Corporation (VACC), which provides financing for Vermont farmers, agricultural facilities and forest product businesses.
Energy Financing of $1.09 million was approved for several commercial and agricultural solar energy installation projects, which together will produce enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 147 average households, and reduce CO2 emissions, by 578 tons each year.  Approved financings include: 
In addition, loans totaling $596,000 were approved through the Authority’s Small Business Loan Program, which assists growing Vermont small businesses that are unable to access adequate sources of conventional financing. 

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