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Stimulus Funds Help Companies Expand

January 17, 2011 : The Republican, by Jim Kinney

AMHERST – Atkins Farm, the longtime landmark known for its apple pies, apple cider and doughnuts, is not only replacing the warehouse it lost to the reconstruction of Route 116, but plans to add more retail space and an all-season grille and ice-cream shop.

“Circumstances are pushing us toward it,” said Pauline A. Lannon, president of Atkins Farm.

In December, Atkins received a $3 million Recovery Zone Bond issued by MassDevelopment that financed a 25,000-square foot addition to an existing building at Atkins along with work to convert existing retail space to house the ice cream shop and a grille where customers will be able to get hot dogs and hamburgers.

She said the eatery would be the second step of the project and had no estimate for when it would be open.

The deal was part of $334 million in Recovery Zone Bonds issued around the state in December. The state Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development announced the bonds recently. The program was funded with federal stimulus money and is now closed.

The bonds themselves were issued by MassDevelopment, the state’s finance and development authority.

According to the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, the tax free bonds allow businesses to borrow at a cheaper rate, typically at interest rates 1 to 1.5 points lower than those businesses would have been able to get elsewhere. But the state was unable to reveal the terms of individual loans.

Atkins wasn’t the only local project financed under the Recovery Zone Program.

In Hatfield, home center r.k. Miles received $4.4 million in funding to build a 27,000-square-foot building across the street from the company’s current store on West Street near Interstate 91.

Josiah “Joe” E. Miles, president of the third-generation family-owned business based in Manchester, Vt., said the 1 percent reduction in the company’s loan rate amounts to a $44,000-a-year savings on interest payments.

Miles bought the former Rugg Building Solutions in 2008.

“It’s been a good market for us,” Miles said. “We’ve got a great group of employees down there. The business has done well.”

But the building is poorly insulated and inadequate. That’s why Miles is moving the business across the street.

“I drove by the site for a year before one day looking at it and going ‘Wow’,” he said.

Other companies receiving bond money include Iredale Mineral Cosmetics in Great Barrington with $4.6 million, Allegrone Companies in Lenox with $3 million and Kayem Foods in Chelsea with $6.5 million.

© Copyright 2011 The Republican.