Whitney Blake gets $350,000 loan from economic development program

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ROCKINGHAM — One of Rockingham's largest employers is the recipient of a $350,000 loan from the $10 million Windham County Economic Development Program funded by the former owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Whitney Blake Co., which has two separate plants in the Rockingham Industrial Park, will use the money to restructure debt and increase operating capital, according to a press release from the Vermont Department of Economic Development.

The company currently employs about 95 people, and will add 28 new jobs over the next three years, according to Rockingham Development Director Gary Fox. As part of the plan, five jobs will be transferred from the company's plant in Mexico.

Fox said the company has been very busy lately and is a growing firm. Its acquisition of a New Jersey firm, Sonetronics, is helping to support the Whitney Blake expansion.

Whitney Black makes insulated wire and cable, including its trademarked "Koiled Kords." It has been located in Bellows Falls for decades.

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The company also bought the former Vermed building in the Rockingham Industrial Park in 2018, and Fox said the second location is a more modern manufacturing facility. He believes the company will be dividing its two product lines between the two facilities.

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"Whitney Blake is one of the oldest companies in the industrial park," said Fox, who noted he has been trying to get the company involved in the activities of the Bellows Falls Area Development Corp. Company officials didn't return calls for comment on Monday.

The $350,000 low-interest loan comes from the Windham County Economic Development Program, which was established by the administration of former Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin with funding from Entergy Nuclear, after the company announced it was closing the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon in December 2014, costing the region about 650 high-paying jobs.

Entergy agreed to give $10 million toward economic development in Windham County, at a rate of $2 million for five years. The Brattleboro Development Credit Corp. helped administer the funds.

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R.T. Brown, who administers the program for BDCC, said Whitney Blake received the maximum amount loan. He said the interest rate for the loan is two percent. Typically, working capital loans are paid back over 60 months, although Brown said he didn't know the final payback period on the Whitney Blake loan.

He said Whitney Blake had submitted a letter of interest to the local council that reviews all applications, and then it is forwarded to state officials.

The Department of Economic Development issued a press release saying that Whitney Black was organizing its manufacturing with one plant devoted to wire and cable manufacturing and the second to wiring harness and cable assembly. The loan will "help accelerate the migration of operations" from the Sonetronics plant in New Jersey, the release said.

Contact Susan Smallheer at ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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