$2.7 Million Total VCLF Lending in 4th Quarter 2016
When tens of thousands of families and businesses count on you every day to deliver their power - no interruptions and no exceptions - reliability is everything. Hence the name: Northern Reliability, the newest member of the Vermont Community Loan Fund’s (VCLF) family of borrowers.
In December, VCLF provided financing to Northern Reliability (NR), the Waitsfield power storage company, to help them cover operating costs like product design and customization, installation and maintenance of power storage units on- and off-grid, and more.
“Our civil, electrical and mechanical engineers work with customers to design systems that will revolutionize the grid” says Jay Bellows, NR’s President and CEO, via its reliable energy storage, technological innovations, and significant cost savings. As NR’s website describes, “Our products scale to meet any energy demand and are designed to operate under any condition around the world using power derived from sunlight, wind and conventional fuel sources.”
Waitsfield area residents in particular may remember NR’s beginnings as Northern Power Systems (NPS). NPS started nearly 30 years ago, providing wind and other alternative energy and storage to some of the world’s most remote locations. When NPS decided to focus exclusively on wind energy generation in 2007, a group broke off to continue the energy storage side of the business under the new name of Northern Reliability.
That group has spent the past decade building the business under a new model and developing a range of energy storage solutions. NR now has eighteen full- and part-time employees, with five to six new jobs anticipated to be added this year following nearly 300% business growth in 2016.
NR projects range in scale and scan the globe. Current works include supplying continuous power for remote, off-grid tower sites in rural Maine, aircraft obstruction lighting for a transmission tower at Niagara Falls, and affordable, reliable power to residents on a remote island off the coast of Massachusetts - to name a few.
As an example of the inherent ‘power’ behind the concept of energy storage, Jay explains how NR’s storage helps make solar more accessible. “Solar energy wouldn’t otherwise be available during peak usage hours of 4 – 9 p.m. after the sun has gone down.” Figuring out how to effectively store solar enables customers to use it more widely and affordably, he explains.
“Our solutions will result in huge savings for customers. Our systems are built to last 20 years or more, and pay for themselves in a fraction of that amount of time.” Storing energy also provides a reliable back-up, in the instance of storms and outages, he adds.
Additional financing was provided by the Flexible Capital Fund, an investment fund that offers near equity capital to growing Vermont companies. “Working with Janice (St. Onge, Flexible Capital Fund President) was a very big deal for us,” says Jay. “And then at Janice’s yearly meeting, we met Will (Belongia, VCLF’s Executive Director). We had the opportunity to work with bigger banks, but we wanted to work with them,” Jay explains, praising the organizations’ missions to build Vermont’s businesses, jobs and economy. With financing in place, he says, “our focus is on the future”. northernreliability.com/
Additional Q4 financing was provided to:
Catamount Glassware, Bennington
Longtime VCLF borrower Catamount Glass, makers of high-quality microwave-safe home and custom cookware and new Tap House restaurateurs, approached VCLF for a new loan to refinance existing lines of credit and a mortgage held with other commercial lenders. The loan will assist in preserving 17 Vermont jobs. catamountbarware.com/
Farm to Cake, Barre
Justine Macris began baking her celebrated Farm to Cake (FTC) carrot cakes in her own kitchen in 2014; a 2016 VCLF loan helped her move operations to a commercial kitchen in Waterbury Center. Not long after, one of her accounts, Montpelier’s Hunger Mountain Coop, asked if she’d also supply them with apple and pumpkin pies. Feeling it was the perfect next step in her expansion plan, Justine approached VCLF for additional financing to purchase the needed baking supplies, small equipment, raw materials, packaging, and label design for this line extension. Now, in addition to her many existing accounts, Justine has been approached by Hannaford, Price Chopper, Sodexho and many others to supply her baked goods. The loan preserves one full-time job. facebook.com/vermontcarrotcake/
Full Sun Company, Middlebury
Start-up business Full Sun Company, New England’s only oilseed mill, sources the majority of its seeds locally and regionally, making them into extra virgin, cold-pressed, non-GMO culinary sunflower and canola oils. With sources such as Whole Foods Market reporting 154% growth in non-GMO and organic foods nationally from 2010 to 2014, Full Sun will use VCLF financing to gear up for expanding sales. The loan preserves four jobs and is expected to lead to four more created in the coming year. fullsuncompany.com/
High Mowing Organic Seeds, Wolcott
High Mowing Organic Seeds (HMOS) a family-owned mail and web order seed company, is the nation’s leading producer and distributer of organic, non-GMO seeds, and a VCLF borrower from its early years. With sales projections continuing to rise, HMOS approached VCLF for financing to support its anticipated growth. Funding will preserve 44 jobs and is expected to create nine new full-time jobs and eight part-time seasonal jobs. highmowingseeds.com/
Kids of the Kingdom, St. Johnsbury
Owner Megan Bunnell has operated the highly-successful, 4-STARS-rated Barnet child care program Kids of the Kingdom since 2014, with financing from VCLF. Last year, Megan decided to open a second KOK facility in St. Johnsbury. Megan is using VCLF financing to purchase real estate and for renovations including a waste water system expansion, conversion of garage space to a classroom, installation of fire safety equipment, fencing and more. The new facility will serve 40 children and their families with full-day, full-year care, and create 12 jobs. facebook.com/Kids-of-the-Kingdom-Learning-Center-Pre-School-841267482568799/
Lamoille Housing Partnership, Morrisville
Deteriorating older mobile homes at Hardwick’s Evergreen Manor Mobile Home Park had become a serious financial liability to mobile park owner the Lamoille Housing Partnership. Several of the homes had been abandoned and left to LHP to remove. With this drain on this nonprofit’s resources, LHP was force to consider closing the park, leaving up to 32 families homeless. Instead, they approached VCLF for financing to build 13 VerMod high efficiency, zero-net modular homes. The loan created 13 affordable homes and 16 construction jobs. lamoillehousing.org/
Old Route Two Distillery, Barre
Owners Ryan Dumperth and Adam Overbay started Old Route Two Spirits (ORTS) to develop “craft regional spirits showcasing the flavors that can only be made by hand in the heart of Vermont.” They’re using VCLF financing for equipment purchases and leasehold improvements to their new production facility, including a boiler and heating upgrades, flooring, lighting, and countertops, plumbing and HVAC. The loan is expected to create three new jobs in 2017 and additional jobs going forward. ORTS plans to source most of the raw materials for its products from Vermont, including grains and hardwoods. oldroutetwo.com/