After six months of construction and working out of trailers, held a grand opening celebration to officially welcome people to the on Route 83 in Vernon.
Though the dealership is in the same location as it was before, the new, state of the art building looks nothing like what it did.
Jill Merriam, who owns the business with her brother, Jeff, took advantage of the reinvest in America funds that the Obama administration put in place.
“Without that we wouldn’t be here,” she said.
Jill Merriam said that the building was built in the 1950s and was in a state of disrepair. The added funds were a huge help in making the $3 million project a reality.
“From the moment we bought it in 2002, we said that we were going to rebuild the building – but it was just so cost prohibitive,” Merriam said. “Hyundai was a relatively new brand at the time and not doing as well as it is now, so we just needed a number of years to build up the funds to be able to do it. In this past year, when Obama passed this reinvest in American tax credit, it kind of gave us the little edge to finally say we’re going to do it.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal attended the celebration and had many kind words for the Merriams.
“Thank you to Jeff and to Jill for having the courage and the strength to take this step at a time of economic challenge,” he said. “The Obama administration may have helped, but they’re the ones who put their names and their wherewithal on the line.”
He continued, “This is about Connecticut coming back, about small businesses, creating opportunities, using opportunities, and making sure that we have the best product sold by people who keep their word and keep faith with the people who work for them. That’s the kind of people the Merriams have been throughout the decades that they’ve done business here in Connecticut.”
During the renovation process, the dealership remained open, enabling the 100 employees of the business to keep working. The business continued to succeed during the construction.
“Our business really never fell off,” Merriam said. “We were very grateful that the community supported us throughout the six-month project.”
All local workers were also used on the project.
“All the contractors who were here said on a daily basis how grateful they were to be working,” Merriam said.
The project was done in six months time, and it had to be. For the tax credit that they used to be able to afford the project, the dealership had to have a certificate of occupancy in hand by Dec. 31. Merriam said they got it on Dec. 30.
With those tight deadlines, it took a lot of things falling into place in order to get it done in time.
“We could not have done it without the town of Vernon,” Merriam said. “The building department was unbelievable. They were really supportive of us. They really did an unbelievable job.”