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PA's First Minority-Owned Distillery, Located in Allentown, Receives $175,000 Investment for Expansion | WDIY Local News

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Mishka Premium Vodka

A groundbreaking local business has received over a hundred thousand dollars in state investment to expand its operations.

The Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development said Monday that a $175,000 loan has been approved for This Life Forever, an Allentown distillery located at 841 North Gilmore St.

This Life Forever is the first minority-owned distillery in Pennsylvania, founded in 2008 by CEO and Master Distiller Russell Fletcher, and incorporated in 2012.

“Investing in small businesses is pivotal to the Lehigh Valley’s success,” State Sen. Nick Miller, D-Lehigh/Northampton said in a release.

“We are a community made up of small businesses, 90% of our local businesses have fewer than 20 employees. This Life Forever Inc.’s expansion will add jobs and continued growth to the Lehigh Valley.”

The loan money will be used to help the distillery purchase machinery and equipment, and finance the working capital needed to expand the distillery’s operations.

This Life Forever will also add two full-time jobs to its current three-person staff.

The company produces the grass-roots premium vodka brand, Mishka Premium Vodka, and plans to expand its offerings to include low-proof ready-to-drink cans, canned wines, and co-packing.

According to the DCED, the funding was approved through the Pennsylvania Minority Business Development Authority, which was established in 1974 and provides low-interest loans to businesses owned and operated by ethnic minorities.

“I appreciate this assistance from the PMBDA — reviving domestic manufacturing is a key part of keeping our country’s economy stable in the future and now,” Fletcher said.

“The Shapiro Administration is committed to investing in the Commonwealth’s small, minority-owned businesses,” said DCED Secretary Rick Siger.

“Empowering our minority-owned businesses helps create jobs, grows our economy and sends a clear message that Pennsylvania is open for business to everyone.”

The investment announcement comes shortly after $20 million in first-time state funding was secured in the state budget for the Historically Disadvantaged Business Program for small minority-, women-, and veteran-owned businesses across Pennsylvania.

According to Gov. Josh Shapiro’s office, disadvantages businesses have less access to capital, are three times more likely to be denied loans, are more likely to pay a higher interest rate, and are more likely to receive lower loan amounts than non-minority owned companies.

(Original air-date: 8/29/23)

Sarit "Siri" Laschinsky was WDIY's News and Public Affairs Director until 2023.
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