New CRDC loan for high-tech firm is a first for New Hampshire


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A growing Manchester technology firm is the first New Hampshire company to secure a loan through a new U.S. Small Business Administration pilot program, administered locally by the Capital Regional Development Council.

Helix Design Inc., a full-service industrial design firm headquartered in the Manchester Millyard, secured a $200,000 loan through the program, called the Intermediary Lending Pilot program. Helix will use the loan for working capital fund the company's growth.

The ILP program was established by the federal Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 and was funded by the federal stimulus.

To administer the program, the SBA awarded $20 million to 20 nonprofit organizations around the country to act as lending intermediaries. Among those intermediaries is the Concord-based CRDC, a nonprofit development corporation that deploys loan programs throughout New Hampshire.

The CRDC was awarded a $1 million loan for the pilot program, which it can use to make loans between $50,000 and $200,000 to small businesses throughout New Hampshire that are facing significant gaps in the credit market. The loans can be used for working capital, real estate or the acquisition of materials, supplies, or equipment.

"Because it's our cash, we have a lot more control over it and can be a lot more creative and flexible when we work with growing businesses," said Stephen Heavener, executive director of the CRDC.

Unlike some of the other loan programs that the CRDC deploys, the ILP program is not limited geographically to a particular region of the state, meaning the CRDC can make loans to companies located in cities and towns with populations of 25,000 or greater.

"Previously, we may not have been able to help Helix Design, with the types of programs (we offer) and restrictions on our programs," said Heavener. "Even though the ILPP fund is eligible for any business in New Hampshire, we're really trying to focus those tools on Manchester, Concord -- the bigger cities in our prime territory."

The Helix Design project was "a win all around" for several reasons, said Heavener. The company is located in Manchester, the loan was closed in just a month, and Helix is "a really interesting technology company."

A large part of the CRDC's work involves working closely with banks to close funding gaps for small businesses. As such, many of the businesses it lends to are involved in the state's tourism economy, like hotels and restaurants, or are enterprises, like doctor's offices.

In other words, said Heavener, "we don't really have a lot of loans to interesting, growing state-of-the-art technology companies."

Helix has designed products ranging from digital cameras and a video-conferencing robot to water filtration systems and military gear.

"We essentially design cool things you want to use," said Joe Schappler, founder and principal of Helix. "Industrial design is the consumer appeal to the product. You need a connection with the product -- we make that happen."

For more information on the ILP program, visit crdc.com or call Heavener at 603-369-9000.

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