CDFA has approved a Community Development Block Grant award of $160,000 to the town of Lebanon, which will convert the money into a loan for FreshAir Sensor Corporation. A condition of the financing is that the company pledges to create eight jobs with benefits, the majority of which will be available to people currently of low-to-moderate income.
“Even inventors of promising new technology face challenges obtaining all of their financing through private investors or conventional lending. This is a great opportunity to help a start-up get to market and create quality jobs in the Upper Valley,” said CDFA Communications Director Kevin Flynn. “Providing this gap financing will create eight jobs now and up to 50 jobs in the next five years.”
FreshAir is attempting to bring its new AirGuard sensor to market. This new, high-end sensor can detect at the molecular level whether nicotine or marijuana has been smoked in the vicinity. The sensor then records and notifies the property manager by Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. FreshAir sees growth opportunity at hotels, factories, public or rental housing, government buildings, college dorms, or any industry or facility at which smoking is prohibited.
The business is co-owned by Joseph BelBruno, a Dartmouth professor, and Jack O’Toole, who earned an MBA at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and graduated as a Tuck Scholar. The novel nature of the technology and the company’s solid rollout plan has already been featured in Inc. magazine and in London’s Daily Mail.
The Community Development Block Grant awards funds directly to the town of Lebanon, who sub-grants the money to the nonprofit Grafton County Economic Development Corporation (GCEDC). They administer the loan. As FreshAir pays it back, proceeds will go into GCEDC’s revolving loan fund to help other growing businesses in the region.
“There are many entrepreneurs in New Hampshire who need help jumping off the drawing board or getting out of the garage. This is one start-up which has the potential of long-term economic impact for Lebanon,” said Flynn.
The grant awaits final confirmation from the Executive Council later this month.
CDBG program funds provide housing and create jobs primarily for low- and moderate-income people. Funds are made available to the state of New Hampshire by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, and administered by CDFA. Each project is evaluated on several criteria, including impact on low- and moderate-income residents and the acquisition of matching funding.
CDFA will be conducting application writing workshops for the CDBG Microenterprise Program.