Company Requests Extension for Federal Grant Commitment
By Patrick Cronin
Hampton Union, February 10, 2012
[The following article is courtesy of the Hampton Union and Seacoast Online.]
HAMPTON -- Sleepnet is requesting another year to live up to its commitment to create 20 new jobs — with 60 percent of those going to people with low or moderate incomes — as part of receiving a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant last year.
Selectmen voted unanimously this week to support Sleepnet's request for an extension in meeting its obligations under the federal grant.
The town sponsored the grant on behalf of the Hampton-based company that manufactures medical respiratory medical masks that help people with sleep apnea.
Town Manager Fred Welch said due to difficult economic times the company had a problem in carrying out its new product line.
"That extra production would have hired the people they need," Welch said. "But because of the way the economy is, they had to postpone that to the spring of this year."
Welch said the company expects to be able to meet the job requirement this year as it intends to launch two new products — one in the spring and another in the summer.
Community Development Block Grants are available to towns for economic development, public facility and housing rehabilitation projects and feasibility studies that primarily benefit low -and moderate-income people.
The town was asked to sponsor the grant for the company by the Coastal Economic Development Corporation.
Welch said there was no cost to the town for being a sponsor because the town retained money from the grant for administration costs.
The grant was given to the CEDC, which used the money to loan $375,000 to Sleepnet.
Sleepnet is responsible for paying back the loan to CEDC, which in return will use the money to help other businesses on the Seacoast.
If Sleepnet is not granted an extension, it will be required to pay back the money awarded, with penalties and fines.
For nearly 15 years, Sleepnet has manufactured high-quality gel masks used in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and non-invasive ventilation. The company moved in 2006 from Manchester to its current location on Merrill Industrial Drive in Hampton.