Dane County Eyes Financing to Help Save Rowe Pottery Works in Cambridge
March 17, 2004
Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today announced that the county is taking steps to help Cambridge’s anchor store, Rowe Pottery Works, get back on its feet.
“Rowe Pottery is a vital part of Cambridge and Dane County,” said Falk. “We had to act quickly, and we did. Working with our partners in Cambridge, we think there’s a good chance we can keep Rowe Pottery Works and preserve jobs.”
Falk said that tomorrow (March 18) a resolution will be introduced to the County Board by Supervisor Bob Salov of Cambridge, authorizing a $350,000 loan from the county’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. It will then be referred to the full CDBG Commission for review.
Under the federally-funded CDBG program, the county has established a Commercial Revitalization Loan Fund (CRLF) to provide loans for downtown revitalization and commercial development that creates jobs for low to moderate-income residents.
Falk contacted Rowe as soon as she heard of the pending closing, to express support and let him know of available assistance. After discussions with Rowe and Cambridge officials, Rowe submitted a $350,000 loan application to the CRLF program.
The CRLF Loan Committee unanimously recommended approval of a loan of $350,000, at 2 percent interest, with a term of 25 years. Rowe plans to purchase the business assets, restructure operations and continue the business.
Rowe said, “Without the help of the county and the village, I wouldn’t be able to put this deal together. The CDBG funding criteria for the loan is ideally suited to this situation, with our downtown location and preserving jobs. Kathleen Falk’s interest in keeping the business alive is really well appreciated in the community, well beyond my circumstances.”
Rowe Pottery filed for bankruptcy on February 17, a decision made by the new majority owner, Thomas Henkels. Founder and President Jim Rowe sold majority ownership to Henkels in January to raise capital to weather a recent economic slowdown. Henkels then changed his mind about operating the company, and filed bankruptcy. Rowe hopes to buy back a controlling interest in the company.
Rowe developed the line of handmade salt-glazed stoneware and wrought iron ware, which is produced at a manufacturing plant in Cambridge, and sold through wholesale and retail at Cambridge’s Main street store and over the Internet. Rowe Pottery opened in 1975 and has been a key part of Cambridge’s tourism business.
Dane County’s loan, if approved by the County Board and signed by the County Executive, would be part of a finance package that is projected to include the State Bank of Cambridge and the Village of Cambridge. The Village voted at their last Board meeting to support Rowe Pottery through a Community Development Authority.
“It is fantastic that the county and local government are working together on this. The community support has been tremendous,” said Village President Donn Trieloff.
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