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More funding secured for Sugar Hill Cidery project

Mike Still • Apr 15, 2019 at 9:05 AM

NORTON — Part of a downtown revitalization effort has topped the $300,000 mark in financial backing.

The Virginia Coalfield Economic Development Authority and Sugar Hill Cidery last week closed a $90,000 tourism fund loan for the planned restaurant and cider-producing business.

The loan is the third $90,000 package approved for Sugar Hill since 2018. A $50,000 Virginia Department of Agriculture seed capital grant approved last year for the project brings total funding for the business to $320,000.

The cidery meshes with Norton’s adjacent Project Apple, which improves parking, outdoor event facilities and the Farmers Market and Event Center.

Cidery owner Jennifer Bailey, who started the Sugar Hill Brewery in St. Paul three years ago with her husband, Greg, said the latest loan will help pay for the installation of cider-making equipment and an 18-by-52-foot room with windows surrounding the production part of the restaurant.

“People will be able to see the cider-making equipment from the Farmers Market side, and there will be a big window on the restaurant side,” Bailey said. “We’ve got just about all the funding in place to finish the restaurant. We will be ready to install cider equipment soon.”

In the past two months, crews completed initial demolition inside the former car dealership on Park Avenue. Bailey said some interior wall framing is in place, and crews are completing water, drain and gas lines along with the restaurant’s grease trap.

“So far it’s looking good for an August opening,” Bailey said.

“It seems kind of early, but we also ordered silverware for the restaurant,” Greg Bailey added.

VCEDA Executive Director Jonathan Belcher said the total funding package includes not only the $140,000 in authority grant and loan funding but another $90,000 loan from the Cumberland Plateau Planning District and a federal Small Business Administration-guaranteed loan from First Bank and Trust.

Jennifer Bailey said the SBA loan, while approved, has not yet been closed in order to keep it as a reserve line of credit if needed for the closing stages of the project.

Belcher said that projections for the cidery include six full-time and 24 part-time jobs within the restaurant’s first year of operation.

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