A Valley Stream chocolate distributor owned by a veteran of the Iraq War recently received a $50,000 loan that allowed it to open an interactive chocolate factory and retail shop.
5th Avenue Chocolatiere, a 40-year-old family-run business with more than 20 employees, has been in operation since 1973 and has locations in New York City and on Long Island, according to a press release. The company’s chocolates are also sold in Japan.
Since receiving the New York Business Development Corp. loan meant for military veterans, 5th Avenue Chocolatiere has opened Chocolate Works, a 10,000 square-foot interactive chocolate factory and retail shop at 396 Rockaway Ave. in Valley Stream that hosts private parties and workshops.
“The loan ... made it possible for my company to purchase a state-of-the-art production facility, which serves as command center for our 12 franchise locations," said Chocolate Works CEO Joseph Whaley, an Iraq War veteran and West Point graduate. “In the coming months, we anticipate adding hundreds of jobs as we increase our exports and continue to make Chocolate Works a household name.”
In 2007, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and NYBDC announced the availability of $5 million in competitively priced fixed-rate small business loans for returning military veterans. New York business owners who serve in the guard or reserve, or honorably discharged former active duty members may apply for small business loans up to $150,000. Loans may be used for existing businesses or start-ups.
The program has made 14 loans totaling $1,092,500 to veteran-owned small businesses in Erie, Onondaga, Ontario, Nassau, Suffolk, Dutchess and Albany counties.
“When small business owners are in the military and are called to active duty, their businesses often face obstacles,” DiNapoli said. “The veteran loan program helps ease the financial hardships resulting from deployment and provides veteran-owned businesses the capital to expand and thrive. Military families have sacrificed much for our country. This is the least we can do to show our appreciation.”