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July 19, 2021

Vertical Harvest, MedRhythms get FAME financing to advance growth plans

a rendering of a four-story glassed in building on a four-lane road with a smaller extension behind it Courtesy / Vertical Harvest A 300,000-square-foot Westbrook building, shown in this rendering, is expected to house the Vertical Harvest indoor farm, as well as apartments, parking and commercial space.

The Finance Authority of Maine has approved a total of nearly $50 million in financing for two startups — Vertical Harvest L3C, which plans to launch a hydroponic greenhouse in Westbrook, and a Portland provider of "digital therapeutics," MedRhythms Inc.

Vertical Harvest will receive $45 million in conduit bond financing. The company plans to produce over 1 million pounds of produce annually, and FAME's funds will be used to finance a portion of the construction costs to build 70,000-square-foot Westbrook farming facility. The project ultimately is expected to create approximately 50 full- and part-time jobs, many of which are expected to be performed by individuals with disabilities.

The project is part of a larger master-planned development that is expected to include affordable housing and parking in downtown Westbrook. Because the project will treat wastewater as an exempt facility, all or a portion of the bonds will be eligible for tax-exempt treatment under federal tax law.

“We appreciate FAME’s support for the agricultural component of this project,” said Greg Day, president of TDB LLC, developer of the project. “This master-planned program establishes a compelling business model for food production in an urban core that our firm is expanding to other communities throughout New England and the nation.” 

Vertical Harvest plans to break ground on the facility in the fall. It's expected to be Maine’s first vertical farm, and the country’s second. The company’s first location in Jackson Hole, Wyo., was the first of its kind and has been operating for five years.

MedRhythms, Inc. will receive tax credit certificates related to approximately $2.8 million in investments through the Maine New Markets Capital Investment Program to help with the costs of a commercialization strategy of its device and software for stroke rehabilitation. The certificates authorize the issuance by the state of approximately $1.1 million in tax credits through the program.

“We are pleased to support MedRhythms’ plans to advance their digital therapeutic for stroke rehabilitation, as well as additional research and development,” said David Daigler, chair of the FAME board. “Digital therapeutics are a cutting-edge field that can help to improve the everyday lives of Mainers and other patients who will benefit from the company’s technology.”

MedRhythms uses sensors, music, and software to build solutions that measure and improve walking. The company, which currently employs 18 individuals, with 13 full-time employees in Maine, hopes to triple its workforce in the next few years.

“Digital therapeutics are the future of health care, and we appreciate the support of FAME,” said Brian Harris, CEO and founder of MedRhythms.

FAME uses tax-exempt private activity bonds, or “conduit bonds,” which are authorized by the Internal Revenue Code in order to stimulate economic development in certain targeted industries. The projects financed in recent years range from nonprofit health and higher education projects to solid waste improvements, public infrastructure and manufacturing. 

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