Fleet Financing

USDA Loan Program Helps Belgrade Company Acquire “Super Scoopers”

Montana wildfire season arrived a bit early this year due to drier than normal and windy conditions. But Bridger Aerospace, a veteran-owned company based in Belgrade, was ready to answer the call with its two new CL-415EAF “Super Scooper” fire extinguishing planes.

Through USDA Rural Development’s Business and Industry Loan Guarantee Program, Bridger Aerospace was able to complete the purchase of the two aircraft, which are unique water harvesting aircraft used to help combat forest fires through aerial suppression. And, with a bright red and yellow color scheme, these air-based emergency response assets, part of Bridger Aerospace’s largest fleet, are hard to miss.

“This summer, you’ll see Super Scoopers in the sky battling wildfires with environmentally friendly water for federal and state governments,” said McAndrew Rudisill, director of investments at Bridger Aerospace.

Bridger Aerospace elected to take out a USDA Business & Industry loan following advice the company received from Live Oak Bank, according to a press release from USDA Rural Development. The bank suggested that USDA Rural Development would be an optimal funding partner because the company’s business model aligned with USDA Rural Development’s mission of developing infrastructure and employment in rural parts of the country. Montana.

BA’s work in fighting wildfires through aerial suppression with the specially designed CL-415EAF ‘Super Scooper’ aircraft has created many new, well-paying jobs for skilled workers in rural Montana and has generated substantial development around the Belgrade community, ”Rudisill added.

But, to get to the point of supply, Bridger Aerospace needed long-term financing to match the 30-year lifespan of the Super Scooper. In conducting the research, Rudisill and his team recognized that the USDA Business & Industry loan terms matched not only the cost of capital required and the loan term BA needed to expand its aircraft fleet, but would allow the business to repay the loan within a reasonable timeframe. Because the USDA Loan Guarantee Program for Business and Industry provides loan guarantees to lenders, lenders can in turn offer larger loans to rural businesses. In this case, thanks to the loan guarantee from USDA Business & Industry, Bridger Aerospace was able to secure the financing it needed for this larger acquisition.

“The process of working with the USDA was comprehensive and systematic,” noted Rudisill. “We have appreciated the partnership and experience with Live Oak Bank to help guide us through the USDA process and recommend that any business preparing to apply for a USDA B&I loan be very organized in their approach. and be prepared to answer detailed questions about their business model and the use of loan capital. “

USDA is making up to $ 1 billion in loan guarantees to help rural businesses meet their working capital needs during the coronavirus pandemic. The deadline for applications is September 15 or until funds made available for this purpose are spent. See the Business & Industry CARES Act program website at www.rd.usda.gov for more information.

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