Success Story
Release No.STELPRD4014205
, Mar 01, 2011 --

A few years ago, Watsonville Coast Produce, a distributor for produce in Watsonville, Calif., was in the process of transitioning their facility from three buildings to a single larger facility. The company needed to restructure their loan and find long term financing in order to complete the construction of the new state-of-the-art plant and continue to provide local jobs; however their bank turned them down even though the company was profitable. This left Watsonville Coast Produce looking for a bank to provide financing in a short period of time.

USDA Rural Development worked with Santa Cruz County Bank, a local community bank in quickly providing a Business & Industry Guarantee Loan for $4.6 million replacing long term financing for their facility, stabilizing jobs, and providing additional cash flow funds.

Funded under the "Local Food Initiative", the B&I loan assistance provided Watsonville Coast Produce with the financing they needed to stabilize their business while saving $110,000 in additional cash flow per year. This additional funding allowed them to make necessary improvements to their facility, coolers and truck fleet.

"It was getting toward that midnight hour and we needed money to stay in business," said Gary Manfre, who co-owns Watsonville Coast Produce with Doug Petersen and John Burkett. "This program was really a lifesaver for us."

Watsonville Coast Produce is a major employer in Watsonville with $30 million in annual sales and employing 85 employees. They distribute over 250 organic and 400 conventional produce items to over 1,400 customers in 13 counties in California. Watsonville Coast Produce works with approximately 100 farms in assisting them in providing an avenue to store, market and distribute their local crop production.

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