By Danny Monahan
Small Business Administration Vermont District Office public information officer
A small business in Randolph, Vt. is constructing a multimillion dollar state-of-the-art facility that will benefit the business and the town.
Freedom Foods, a food production and packaging business, is located in a 7,500 square-foot former textile mill on Pleasant Street and will be upgrading to a 24,910 square-foot building, which is under construction on Beanville Road.
“We work with artisan food producers to develop, produce, package and distribute their creations,” said Cathy Bacon, Freedom Foods owner. “Each recipe is hand-crafted in small batches by real people who are passionate about food. We don't do mega-production, we create fabulous food. We create products each year you don’t even know you are going to like a year from now. ”
Since its establishment in 2008, it has continuously grown
“Every three to six months it seemed we needed more space,” said Cathy Bacon. “By 2011 we were out of space and by 2012 we had to become more selective when taking on new clients because we did not have the space or the infrastructure to meet demands,” said Bacon. “We were at our maximum capacity.”
In early 2013 it occurred to Bacon Freedom Foods had to either move to or build a larger facility. She knew she wanted to keep her business in Randolph, but it did not have an available space meeting her needs and there was piece of property down the road to build a new facility, but it lacked utilities.
To keep Freedom Foods in Randolph and obtain the utilities needed, the town applied for and received a Community Development Block Grant through the Vermont Community Development Program. Community Development Block Grants provide capital to cities and towns to address public improvement projects. Randolph will build a 3,000-foot wastewater extension down South Pleasant Street to the Beanville Road Industrial Park, which benefits the town because the expansion of the municipal services will allow others to establish businesses in the area.
Freedom Foods financed the construction of their new facilities with a Small Business Administration 504 loan, which is an economic development program supporting small business growth, and helps communities through business expansion and job creation.
“By the SBA supporting Freedom Foods, they are supporting several entities because 90 percent of our clients are small businesses,” said Bacon.
The 504 loan program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing for purchasing and renovating land, buildings and equipment.
“We looked at alternatives to the SBA, but SBA had the flexibility to work with our capital needs,” said Bacon’s father Bill Baumann, an engineer who helped design the new facility and has assisted overseeing its construction. “We are very pleased with the SBA.”
SBA 504 loans are provided through certified development companies. CDCs work with banks and other lenders to make loans on reasonable terms, helping lenders retain growing customers and provide Community Redevelopment Act credit. Freedom Foods secured their 504 loan through Granite State Development Corp.
Once complete, Freedom Foods will be able to increase its employees from 24 to 36. The new facilities will have clean box technology, production rooms with under slab plumbing, flash freezing capabilities, loading docks and a staging area.
“Growing a company and building a new facility is never easy work, but it’s pretty refreshing when multiple organizations can come together to assist a town and a small business grow economically,” said Bacon.