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Local financing helps Cardinal Spirits build local distillery
The owners of Bloomington’s Cardinal Spirits, Jeff Wuslich and Adam Quirk are proud that their lines of vodka, gin, rum, whiskey and bourbon are distilled near downtown Bloomington in an old sheet metal factory.

Their funding is also local. Cardinal Spirits received a loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration 504 program through German American Bank in Bloomington and Indiana Statewide Certified Development Corporation to help convert the old factory and equip it for distilling. Other investors include local small business owners, college professors, family members, and professional investors, according to Quirk.

Indiana Statewide CDC works with local lenders to provide SBA 504 loans to owners of small businesses. SBA 504 loans can give small business owners long-term, fixed rate financing similar to commercial loan terms available for large companies. The loan to Cardinal Spirits funded this month.

A still and other sophisticated equipment are keys to the complex distilling process, says Quirk. "With the SBA 504 loan we were able to afford professional-level modern distilling equipment that guarantees we can maintain a high level of quality every single batch," Quirk says.

German American’s Mark Franklin says, "The 504 program gives the bank more support so we can work with borrowers who have specific needs. It allowed German American, along with the Indiana Statewide CDC, the ability to fund this startup’s specialized equipment and the creation of over 20 jobs in Bloomington."

Indiana Statewide CDC has invested over $494 million in more than 1,110 Indiana companies since 1983, creating or saving 27,000 jobs. Indiana Statewide CDC is the most prolific CDC in Indiana.

Since Congress created the 504 program, SBA 504 loans have funded over $62 billion to more than 130,000 small businesses. In turn, those small firms have created or retained over 2.1 million jobs for the U.S. economy.

Indiana Statewide CDC Executive Director Jean Wojtowicz says, "SBA 504 loans are targeted for smaller companies that have fewer resources than larger firms. 504 loans are effective because borrowing companies can put as little as 10 percent down and receive a low, fixed interest rate for as long as 20 years. The SBA guarantees bonds sold privately to finance a portion of the loan. With the guarantee, we can offer loan rates more favorable than conventional financing."

With financing in place, it’s all about crafting local products for Quirk and Wuslich. Quirk says, "We grew up after the bulk of manufacturing jobs had already left our country. We love being able to hold something in our hands and say, ‘I made this from scratch, and it's amazing.’"

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