Homestead is a producer of ice cream, milk and dairy products supplied by 45 farms in the Roanoke Valley/Smith Mountain Lake area. Started in 2001, its territory is Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. Customers include Kroger and Whole Foods, as well other grocery stores, convenience stores, and home delivery in the Roanoke area. Sales for 2011 exceeded $5.5 million. There are 45 total employees at the end of 2012.
Homestead became a client in 2009 when they came to the Longwood SBDC in Martinsville and asked for an evaluation of the cost of a Farm Credit loan in the amount of $91,000 versus an SBA backed loan in the same amount from a conventional bank. The loan was for an expanded sewage treatment facility at the creamery. The Farm Credit loan was less expensive, and they proceeded accordingly. The ongoing relationship has been to assist in developing a loan package for a $1.1 million plant expansion. This has been finalized with the first ever Virginia Agriculture and Forestry Industries (AFID) grant in the amount of $60,000, a $45,000 Tobacco Indemnification grant, a $30,000 Franklin County grant and the remainder will be financed through Farm Credit.
Challenges and obstacles included writing the grant proposals and the handing paperwork involved in the loan, as well as learning about EPA regulations and mandates. The Roanoke SBDC assisted by finding and evaluating funding sources, as described above.
The Longwood/Martinsville SBDC helped Homestead obtain a Farm Credit loan for their new sewer system. Homestead was also selected as the Longwood/Martinsville Small Business of the Year for 2012, and the Award was presented by Congressman Robert Hurt at the Southern Business Expo in October, 2012. The expansion was just announced on December 17, 2012.