QUEENSBURY — Nettle Meadow Farm and Cheese Company will receive a low-interest loan from the Warren County Local Development Corp. so the Thurman business can pay off debt and retain and hire employees.
The LDC board on Tuesday morning approved the $115,000 loan following a presentation in executive session. The loan is for seven years with a 4 percent interest rate. Only interest payments will be required for the first six months of the loan.
Co-owner Lorraine Lambiase said she felt “ecstatic” about the news.
“It’s a great Christmas present for us and the employees,” she said.
Co-owner Sheila Flanagan said the loan will allow the farm to restructure some debt so it can move forward in a leaner and more efficient manner.
“This puts us on solid footing,” she said.
The business was founded in 2005 and currently employs about 18 to 20 people and has paid out more than $450,000 in payroll to Warren County residents in each of the last two years, according to a fact sheet provided by the company.
“In the spring/summer, we should be able to bring more people on,” Flanagan said.
The business makes over a dozen specialty cheeses from goat, sheep and cow milk and is on track to sell $1.5 million worth of cheese in 49 states, according to the company. The farm has more than 350 goats, over 60 dairy sheep and a number of guard llamas and other rescued animals.
The company has paid out $163,000 to Warren County businesses so far this year and $241,000 to Washington and Saratoga county businesses.
Nettle Meadow was seeking a loan because it had been running deficits starting in 2015 and through 2017, which officials said have since been corrected.
The owners said that lack of management led to collapse of the equipment and infrastructure and problems with training, according to the fact sheet. The cost of replacing expensive equipment led to cost overruns. It also led to lower herd production in 2016.
Company officials said they have taken steps to become profitable again, including replacing the management team, rebuilding the dairy parlor to cut milking times in half, purchasing new equipment, increasing prices for 2018 and entering into a leasing arrangement with two local farms to provide more pasture to the goats. Flanagan said the farm is also seeking grant funding to build out the cheese plant and bring more agritourism to the region.
The business is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily for cheese sales, and it holds farm tours and cheese tasting at noon on Saturdays, weather permitting.