FAME financing will help Fork Food Labs cooperative to relocate to South Portland and provide larger commercial space for its members’ needs.
AUGUSTA — At its monthly meeting on March 17, 2022, the board of directors of the Finance Authority of Maine (FAME) approved 90% pro rata loan insurance on a $3.6 million commercial real estate loan by Mascoma Bank for borrower Fork Food Hub, L3C, to help finance the purchase of a commercial property in South Portland for the relocation and expansion of Fork Food Labs’ cooperative food manufacturing operations. The action is expected to permit the company to grow and accommodate the needs of more members, as well as to retain six jobs and create an additional three.
FAME’s Commercial Loan Insurance Program insures a portion of a loan to a business made by a participating financial institution or investment firm. For a business, it may mean the difference between obtaining a loan or never getting the opportunity to start a business.
“FAME is pleased to help finance Fork Food Labs’ relocation to a larger commercial space, which will enable them to grow and accommodate their members’ needs,” stated David Daigler, FAME Board chair. “Greater Portland’s food industry has experienced significant growth over the past decade and Fork Food Labs provides a critical starting point for many businesses seeking to launch their operations without investing large amounts of capital upfront.”
Fork Food Hub, L3C is a real estate holding company for Fork Food Labs, the operating company, which is a Maine-based 501(c)(3) non-profit founded in 2016. Fork Food Labs is a membership-based shared kitchen offering commercial equipment necessary for food production. Fork Food Labs provides entrepreneurs with workspace, equipment, and access to locally-sourced ingredients for the development of products prior to food entrepreneurs owning their own facilities.
Fork Food Labs is Maine’s only food business incubator and shared production facility and has facilitated the start-up and scale-up of approximately 120 companies. Currently leasing space in Portland’s Bayside neighborhood, where space is too small at 5,200 square feet and not configured to accommodate growing demand, the company plans to relocate to South Portland, where the commercial space will be almost eight-times larger at 42,000 square feet and will allow for growth. The move is expected to help the cooperative accommodate the needs of up to ninety members, including some growing companies needing more space for light manufacturing and packaging to help their businesses scale-up.
“We are very appreciative of FAME’s support as we grow and expand our operations,” stated Bill Seretta, Executive Director. “Fork Food’s relocation will help to accommodate more members and expand our already successful programs, and provide more food industry businesses a cost-effective way to build their brands and provide locally-sourced food products to Mainers and out-of-state visitors and the region alike.”