Vermont Business Magazine There were many reasons Sydney Swindell, Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT), wanted to open her new practice, Fyzical Therapy & Balance Center, in Vermont.

For starters, Vermont’s aging population, reputedly among the oldest in the country, would provide a ready and growing market for its services. She also understood that our state’s extremely active population, regardless of age, would need her; as Sydney observes, while an active lifestyle improves personal fitness and health, it can also increase the risk of injury. “And,” she notes, “we also learned that self-care has declined for many of us during the pandemic, leading to lower fitness levels across the population as a whole.” Then, she adds with a smile: “Also, I fell in love with Vermont.

Sydney and her team offer orthopedic rehabilitation, physiotherapy, athletic rehabilitation, therapy for clients with mobility and balance issues or other limitations resulting from head trauma, stroke , neurodegenerative diseases and, yes, aging.

Growing up in Georgia, Sydney joined the United States Navy after high school, progressing through a career in the aerospace defense industry that took her to San Diego, Oklahoma and Spain. While in the military, she followed a physical therapist who was working with a new stroke patient. “When he first arrived, he couldn’t stand up or speak. Six weeks later, he was walking with a cane,” she recalls. The experience was also transformative for her. “I was addicted. I wanted to experience that kind of satisfaction from my work.

So after a decade in the Navy, Sydney and her family headed to Vermont in 2016, where she enrolled in UVM’s Doctor of Physical Therapy program. With her family happily settled into their new home, she began imagining her dream job – her own physiotherapy clinic – in her dream location in the Green Mountains. The clinic would be state-of-the-art, with state-of-the-art equipment and resources for its clients.

Prior to COVID-19, Sydney considered funding her start-up clinic through traditional lenders. “You would think that, given that I’m female and a veteran, and have good credit, I would be an ideal candidate for a loan.” But she describes the repeated disappointment of having been encouraged by the banks throughout the application process, only to be refused a loan after several months of waiting and hoping, “because I could not get the 45% participation required. I kept hitting that wall.

Waiting for replies from the banks has given Sydney time to explore different avenues of owning her own practice. She found standalone clinics for sale, but was eventually intrigued by the Fyzical Therapy & Balance franchise. “The Fyzical Therapy & Balance franchises are all independently owned,” she found, “and they also provide business support services like accounting, bookkeeping, electronic medical record keeping, discounts on equipment, even a user manual.”

She identified a potential clinic site in the busy Williston neighborhood and began making plans. Next, she brought her ideas to VCLF’s Director of Business and Early Childhood Care and Learning Programs, Dan Winslow.

“Dan was very thorough and careful in reviewing my application,” says Sydney. According to her, her careful consideration of details led her to refine her plans and vision for the clinic. “It made me an even better candidate for the loan, in the end,” she says. When the Loan Fund said yes, Sydney and her team wasted no time. “We took possession of the property on January 1, 2022 and saw my first patient on February 1.”

During a recent Zoom visit, Sydney grabs her laptop and heads down the hall to offer a virtual tour of the new clinic. “So this is some of the equipment that our VCLF loan allowed us to buy,” she says. “He’s a rebounder. It can also work as a trampoline. Over there is weight equipment, the exam table, and that’s where,” she points out, “that the balance training system will go,” she says. , referring to a computerized cart with an 80-foot-long track system and safety harness, purchased with the help of the loan fund.

Sydney’s ongoing plans include adding therapists, mental health services, plenty of classes, on-site locavore dining and more. “I want to provide services that bridge the gap between what patients experience in the hospital and home care,” focusing intensely on fall prevention, balance, regular movements like “squatting, walking, lifting, all activities necessary for daily living,” she says. Additionally, she would like to see the clinic as a non-profit organization providing affordable care for all.

Without VCLF funding, she and her family likely would have left Vermont to practice elsewhere. “Even though my family loves this place, it wouldn’t have been possible to stay if I hadn’t been able to open my own practice,” she says. “VCLF took a chance, and I’m very grateful for that.”

Funding has also been granted to:

Beaver Brook Children’s School, Wilmington
Small-town Wilmington had never had its own daycare, so when early years and learning professional Julie Koehler found the perfect spot for a much-needed preschool program in the old school building high school in Wilmington, she jumped at the chance by starting Beaver Brook Children’s School. It used VCLF funding as a bridging loan to cover staffing and operating costs pending payment from supervisory unions for Universal Pre-K services. The loan saved 30 childcare places and 10 jobs.

BGP, St. Johnsbury
Brandyn Gadapee has applied to the VCLF for funding to renovate a property in St. Johnsbury that will be leased by the Community Restorative Justice Center (CRJC). The CRJC serves people released from incarceration, helping to facilitate their reintegration into the community by teaching them new skills and assisting them with housing and other “wraparound” support services. VCLF funding helped cover the costs of a new roof, electrical system, windows and more, helping to create three new halfway houses and one job.

David Snow Removal, Lyndonville
David Bundrage, a veteran of the United States Armed Forces, started a residential snow and ice control business in Lyndonville…an ideal location for such a business with its average annual snowfall of 84 to 96 inches! He used a VCLF loan to help finance the purchase of a snow blower, hitch trailer, storage shed and other supplies. The loan created one job.

RuralEdge, Brightlook Apartments, St. Johnsbury
When St. Johnsbury’s tall, iconic Brightlook Apartments came on the market recently, affordable housing advocates feared a for-profit developer would convert it into high-end condominiums, displacing many low-income and senior tenants. already calling them home. . The nonprofit, which creates and preserves affordable housing for low-income individuals and families in the North East Kingdom, stepped in, securing funding from the VCLF to purchase the property. The loan preserves 18 affordable housing units and creates 22 construction jobs.

Hollister Hill Farm, Marshfield
Hollister Hill Farm was owned for many years by the Light family, long-time VCLF borrowers. In 2021 they retired and sold the farm to Neil and Catherine Dunlop. Hollister Hill encompasses 205 acres including the B&B/farm, several barns, a sugar shack and extensive gardens. The agricultural business includes dairy cows, beef cattle, pigs, chickens, donkeys, goats, turkeys, maple, and fruit and vegetable production. The Dunlops have used VCLF funding for improvements to the farm including weather protection, new refrigeration for market store produce, updated signage and more. The loan saved three jobs.

Mary Elizabeth Center and Nursery School, Cambridge
When the rental property where Crystal Porter had operated the Mary Elizabeth Center & Preschool for 11 years went up for sale, the price was well over her budget. Undeterred, Crystal pursued her plan to move the program to her neighboring 96-acre farm property. She used VCLF funding to help cover the costs of installing a new classroom in the yurt and related infrastructure costs, including septic, water and electrical systems. In addition to the 15 reception slots preserved by the relocation of the programme, 20 new slots have been created; two jobs were preserved and two new ones were also created.

Soulmate Brewery, Morrisville
U.S. Armed Forces veteran Jonathan Mogor and his wife Carol founded Soulmate Brewing craft brewery and taproom in Morrisville on a stretch of Route 100 popular with craft beer enthusiasts in Vermont and beyond. Soulmate is one of seven tenants in the newly renovated building which is also home to its newest partner, Grazers Restaurant, as well as five other Vermont craft food and beverage companies. Soulmate used VCLF funding to cover equipment purchases and building upgrades for their space in this new location. The loan created eight new jobs.