GMEDC purchases 23,000 square foot building, keeping employer Advanced Illumination in Central Vermont, along with 43 high-skill jobs
After Hurricane Irene’s flood waters caused damage to Advanced Illumination’s (Ai) manufacturing facility in Rochester, Vermont, the company needed a new location. CEO Bill Thrailkill had already begun discussions with the owners of a 23,000 square foot space not far from Rochester Village. The plant, originally a greeting card studio, was a perfect location for his growing high tech machine vision operation, not to mention the 43 people he employs from Rochester and surrounding towns.
That’s when GMEDC Executive Director Joan Goldstein saw the potential for a great fit between Ai’s need to expand, and the subchapter 3 loan program offered by the Vermont Economic Development Authority (VEDA). The program enabled GMEDC to purchase the property for lease to an industrial tenant, with a purchase option when cash flows allow. VEDA extended the loan for the $1.1 million transaction. The rent is favorably low, a situation that’s hard to come by in today’s tough economy.
Ai is a key White River Valley tech employer which provides high skill, quality jobs, said Goldstein. Their new location is a huge facility for this part of Vermont; you just don’t find buildings like this one readily available. If we hadn’t been able to offer these great lease terms to Ai, the building might have gone empty.
Ai manufactures specialized lighting solutions for product inspection, or machine vision. Thrailkill is responsible for business development, innovating new products based upon the needs of his customers. We can create about a half a million different varieties of LED lighting, and we can deliver specialized solutions in about 2 weeks. For our standard products, delivery time is one day, Thrailkill explains. That fast turnover is our competitive advantage.
The company’s new facility sits in the middle of an expanse of fields and river plains, surrounded by the Green Mountains. Administrative and management offices are housed in a white shingled farm house, while the assembly rooms and shops are mainly located in an adjoining warehouse, painted red with white trim. It looks like a traditional farm house with its attached barn, an unusually beautiful high-tech facility, appropriate to the Vermont working landscape.
Inside the warehouse, desks line the walls where technicians work. A dog trots quietly from desk to desk on his daily round of visits. Upstairs are more offices, electricians labs, and a community meeting room. For pot lucks, says Thrailkill.
Goldstein stays closely involved, keeping tabs on the progress of the construction, and acting as a coordinator between VEDA and Ai. As part of her overall strategy at GMEDC, Goldstein maintains close relationships with the region’s businesses, visiting CEOs and owners regularly and helping them to take advantage of grants, loans, and find space.Those close ties are important, allowing Goldstein to bridge the middle ground between state and local governments and economies. We know these people. We work very closely with them, Goldstein says. We make things happen that wouldn’t happen otherwise.