Local produce growers and artisan food crafters seeking to expand their businesses—and their relationships with the nation's leading natural- and organic-focused retail chain, are now eligible for $25 million in low-interest loans courtesy of Whole Foods Market.
The organic-themed retailer reached its initial funding goal of $10 million for independent food businesses, and is now able to commit up to $25 million, the company said in a statement. "The Local Producer Loan Program (LPLP) has provided 184 loans to 155 companies since its inception in 2007. In providing easier access to loans for budding food businesses, the program's first $10 million in funding has not only enabled growth, but also supported pioneering projects in biodynamic farming, non-GMO animal feed, pollinator health and sustainable packaging."
Whole Foods Market's global vice president of growth and business development, Betsy Foster said that expanding the Local Producer Loan Program "is a direct result of the innovations and successes of our loan recipients," adding that by playing a role in "advancing new ideas, growing businesses and realizing dreams, Whole Foods Market stays connected with both our neighborhood producers and our global food community."
The new $15 million cash commitment allows Whole Foods Market to accept new loan applications from local producers looking to expand their operations. "Whether applicants offer a distinctive artisan food product or a new hydroponic farming facility, Whole Foods Market loan administrators, buyers and local foragers work closely with business owners to drive growth and success," says Whole Foods.
In order to qualify, loan recipients must meet Whole Foods Market's "quality standards" and use the fund for expansion. They must also have a viable business plan. " Typical loans range from $1,000 to $100,000 and have fixed low-interest rates," says the company. "Previous loan recipients have used their loans for purchasing more livestock, investing in new equipment, expanding production facilities, adapting to more sustainable practices or converting to organic production."
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