Food Bank of Western Massachusetts secures $9.5M in financing for Chicopee headquarters

April 4, 2022 : MassLive, by Jim Kinney

CHICOPEE — MassDevelopment issued a $9.5 million tax-exempt bond on behalf of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and its $22 million headquarters and warehouse project in the Chicopee River Business Park.

MassDevelopment, the state’s development finance agency and land bank, announced the financing Monday.

PeoplesBank purchased the bond, which will complement funds raised for the project through New Markets Tax Credit equity and the organization’s capital campaign. The arrangement allows the Food Bank to borrow the $9.5 million at a lower interest rate.

Last week, Mascoma Community Development announced $7 million in New Markets Tax Credits funding for the same project.

The food bank is building and equipping a 63,000-square-foot building at 25 Carew St. that will serve as its new headquarters beginning in the summer of 2023.

Since 1986, the food bank has been operating from a building half the size, 30,000 square feet at 97 North Hatfield Road in Hatfield.

The Chicopee Planning Board approved the project in November over the objections of some neighbors concerned about its size, truck traffic and wetlands.

“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to working with nonprofits like The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts to end food insecurity across the Commonwealth,” said Housing and Economic Development Secretary Mike Kennealy, who serves as chair of MassDevelopment’s board of directors. “We’re pleased that the City of Chicopee and The Food Bank were able to strategically utilize state funding sources, such as the MassWorks Infrastructure Program and MassDevelopment’s tax-exempt financing, in order to advance a project that will make a profound difference in the lives of people across western Massachusetts.”

Kennealy was also on hand in Chicopee in February when the Food Bank project was awarded $1.62 million from the MassWorks program.

The announcement Monday came from MassDevelopment, which has financed or managed 416 projects generating investment of more than $1.86 billion in the state economy.

“More residents of western Massachusetts will soon be able to access nutritious food and supportive services with the construction of this bigger, modern food bank,” said MassDevelopment President and CEO Dan Rivera. “MassDevelopment is proud to deliver tax-exempt financing to help The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts fulfill its mission of addressing food insecurity and empowering people to live healthy lives.”

“This is a great project to be a part of,” said PeoplesBank First Vice President of Commercial Banking Matthew Krokov. “The Food Bank plays a vital role in alleviating food insecurities in our region and this investment in the Food Bank’s future home will help provide better access for individuals in our community.”

The food bank also received $5 million from the state’s share of COVID-19 relief funding under the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

“We are excited the Food Bank of Western Mass has chosen the Chicopee Business Park to relocate their operations and headquarters,” said Chicopee Mayor John Vieau. “I can think of no better place in terms of access, efficiency and accessibility than right here in Chicopee at the crossroads of New England. Thank you to the Baker-Polito Administration, MassDevelopment and our local delegation for recognizing the need as we all proudly support efforts to combat food insecurity in Western Massachusetts.