Whole Foods Market offering loans for local producers

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Whole Foods Market is offering loans to help local producers expand their operations. (shutterstock)

Russian born Elena Semenova found bread in the U.S. was lacking so she created Wrawp Foods with partner Craig Dooman to fill the need.

"I decided to come up with a product that has nothing added at all," Semenova said. "Just fruits and vegetable."

Their organic wraps and pizza crusts have no grain at all.

"She put it in the farmers market and people loved it," Dooman said.

They wanted to grow, so they sought out experts with Whole Foods Market, who gave them an expansion loan.

"It helps brands grow if someone wants to scale. It helps them with marketing. It helps them with packaging, with buying equipment. A win-win partnership for both of us," said Monika Coyle, a local purchasing coordinator for Whole Foods Market.

Wrawp Foods said it needed equipment and the marketing helped.

"We use really big dehydrators. It takes roughly 14 to 15 hours to dehydrate the product," Dooman explained.

"It's so unique. It's taken quite a bit of marketing to educate people," said Semenova.

Whole Foods Market said it's especially interested in produce farmers and agricultural producers that can supply Whole Food Markets locally.

"We recently did a survey and 70 percent of our customers want more local in our store," Coyle said. "They want to invest back into their communities."

Coyle said Whole Foods Market was currently working with 100 small businesses.

A typical loan can be up to $25,000. But if a company wants to go organic, or reach outside their immediate area, it's possible to obtain more with a low interest loan.

Beyond food, anything that the store carries, even beauty products, is eligible for the program.

The only downside Wrawp Foods pointed to was paperwork.

Wrawp Foods took about nine months to get through the process, but after four and half years they're happy with their progress.

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foodsmall businessloansfood coachwhole foodsbusiness
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