Total Lending Reaches $4.6 million through Q3
The Vermont Community Loan Fund has closed or committed over $4.6 million in financing to support 20 Vermont small businesses, nonprofit organizations, early care & education programs and developers of affordable housing. The Loan Fund’s 2016 financing represents jobs for 279 Vermonters, early care & education for 356 children and their families and affordable homes for 100 families.
Q3 loans closed include:
Sugar Maple Preschool, Corinth
To say that parents in Corinth and Topsham were worried was putting it lightly. Sugar Maple Preschool, the only program in the area certified to provide universal preschool had just lost its lease. To make matters worse, the local public school, Waits River Elementary, had abruptly terminated its afterschool program.
A nonprofit co-operative, Sugar Maple had served families since 1984, operating out of various locations. Over the years, parent volunteers had worked tirelessly alongside staff to raise the quality of Sugar Maple’s program. The program was now within reach of achieving an important goal: a 5-STAR rating, the highest possible, from Vermont’s STARS child care program rating system.
But Sugar Maple’s landlord, Waits River Valley School, was desperately in need of space for their own growing enrollment. “We basically had a week to figure out where to move,” says Sugar Maple’s Co-operative Board Vice President Melanie Del Frari. She describes parents frantically driving around town, searching for an appropriate, available and affordable new home.
They found it: a residence that, when upgraded to meet licensing requirements including fire & safety systems, electrical and water & wastewater systems, could fit the bill. But it all rested on financing. The Board reached out to VCLF.
“The Loan Fund drove us to work hard,” says Melanie, referring to tasks delegated to staff, parents and friends alike. When the loan was approved “everyone pitched in with painting and sweeping. I found a great desk for five dollars,” recalls Melanie. With fewer than 60 days from the property closing until the first day of the fall term, there was no slowing down, “and no summer off” exclaims Judy.
On August 29th of this year, Sugar Maple opened its new doors to 21 families. Not only did they fill to capacity with 20 preschoolers, they enrolled five older children in their newly established afterschool program, too. With their full-time director, four teachers (one is a special educator) and one substitute, they’re continuing to build Sugar Maple’s curriculum and quality daily, and they’re planning an expansion to boot. “We’re at capacity, and there’s still such a need,” says Judy, “so we’re trying to figure out how we can serve more families with more space.”
“But,” Judy adds, “if VCLF hadn’t been there for us, it would have been a tremendous loss to the community. All those parents would have to travel to who knows where to find affordable child care, because we wouldn’t exist.” Melanie agrees. “VCLF was the only organization that believed we could do this, and it’s so rewarding, because it’s really working,” she says.
Aunt Sadie’s Candles, Lunenburg
Gary Briggs and Brian Schnetzer started Aunt Sadie’s Candles in Boston almost two decades ago, creating unique artisanal candles made with authentic fragrances. Relocating to Lunenburg to continue manufacturing from the barn of their 19th century farmhouse, they have developed a following with their signature candles. Increased sales projections next year brought Gary and Brian back to VCLF for a new loan to keep growing. The loan preserves two full-time and four part-time jobs. auntsadiesonline.com
Champlain Housing Trust, Burlington
Longtime partner/borrower Champlain Housing Trust creates and preserves perpetually affordable housing throughout northwestern Vermont. In 2011, VCLF financed the conversion of a CHT-owned Burlington apartment building into a 16-bed group home for severely mentally¬ disabled adults run by The Howard Center. CHT will use a new VCLF loan to add living and communal space to the property. The loan helps preserve nine Vermont jobs. getahome.org
Vermont Bean Crafters, Moretown
Vermont Bean Crafters’ founder Joe Bossen has steadily grown his business manufacturing and selling bean-based products (burgers, soups, sauces and more) with support from VCLF. This most recent loan will allow him to build inventory for the coming year and purchase new equipment and kitchen improvements. The loan preserves three full-time and three part-time jobs. vermontbeancrafters.com
Since 1987, VCLF has loaned over $90 million to local businesses, affordable housing developers and community-based organizations that has created or preserved 5,200 jobs; built or rehabilitated 4,000 affordable homes; created or preserved quality care for over 3,700 children and their families; and supported community organizations providing vital services to hundreds of thousands of Vermonters.