RALEIGH, NC – – Seven communities in North Carolina are getting help over the next two years to rebuild their local economies in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.
The North Carolina Rural Center has selected Fair Bluff, Kinston, Lumberton, Pembroke, Princeville, Roseboro, and Whiteville to participate in the Small Business Recovery Program , a program that will provide long-term planning and technical assistance to each town. The program will also provide a locally administered loan fund to promote entrepreneurship and small business development in each community.
It’s an effort to help struggling economies regain and recover, and chart a course for their own future in the aftermath of a natural disaster.
(Flooded downtown Fair Bluff after Hurricane Matthew. Photo credit: Jody Johnson)
“Hurricane Matthew had a devastating impact on the local economies of many small towns and communities in Eastern North Carolina,” said Rural Center President Patrick Woodie. “The storm has passed, but the work to rebuild is just beginning, and we know any successful long-term recovery requires a long-term commitment.”
Each participating community will receive an initial $100,000 investment in their local loan funds. Additional resources are available to increase funds to nearly $300,000 to meet the local demand for small business loans.
“The loan funds place the decision making in the hands of the local community,” said Barry Ryan, the Rural Center’s senior director of programs. “It means each community has a say in building its own future.”
(Downtown Fair Bluff after the storm. Photo credit: Jere Snyder)
The Rural Center will administer each fund and a committee of local leaders will direct the promotion of the fund and provide feedback on investment decisions.
But access to investment dollars is only part of the effort.
Rural Center business coaches will help each community create a tailored program to expand their capacity to identify, build, or invest directly in the assets needed to create an entrepreneur-friendly infrastructure in their community and to rebuild and strengthen their small business economy.
“Access to capital is only one component of a vibrant local economy,” said the Rural Center’s Patrick Woodie. “To seed long-term, sustainable growth, local entrepreneurs need technical assistance in developing business plans and local small business owners need help planning for the future. For many of these communities, the typical day-to-day struggles of owning a business were compounded with the arrival of Hurricane Matthew. It’s one thing to start or sustain a small business; it’s another to do it in the aftermath of a natural disaster.”
(A flooded furniture store in downtown Fair Bluff. Photo credit: Jere Snyder)
The seven towns chosen to participate in the program were selected through an intensive vetting process. The Rural Center invited towns to submit letters of interest and documentation of the impact of the storm on their local communities. Each application was thoroughly reviewed by the Center’s advisory committee before the final selections were made.
The Small Business Recovery Program was made possible with a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation under the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016.
“Golden LEAF is pleased to support the Rural Center’s efforts to focus on communities that were hit hard by Hurricane Matthew, but are determined to rebuild and to grow,” said Dan Gerlach, president of Golden LEAF. “We believe this infusion of capital for private businesses will help catalyze and speed recovery and resilience.”
The Small Business Recovery Program is part of the Rural Center’s larger disaster recovery efforts, which include the North Carolina Small Business Recovery Fund , an initiative to help the state’s small business community recover from the effects of Hurricane Matthew, the western wildfires, Tropical Storm Julia, and Tropical Storm Hermine.
The North Carolina Small Business Recovery Fund was established earlier this year to provide low-interest loans of up to $250,000 for terms of up to 10 years. The loans are available to businesses in disaster-impacted areas of the state to help the state’s small business owners not only recover from a natural disaster but also plan for–and mitigate the effects of–the next hurricane, wildfire, or tropical storm. It’s planning that could mean the difference between a short interruption in business and a total shutdown.
To date, the fund has approved eight loans, committing more than $825,000 to small businesses located in seven North Carolina counties: Cumberland, Dare, Johnston, Columbus, Carteret, Wilson, and Wayne.
To learn more about the Rural Center’s small business recovery efforts, visit: www.ncruralcenter.org/recovery
For assistance, please contact:
Senior Director of Programs
NC Rural Center
Funding for the Small Business Recovery Program is provided through a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation under the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016, along with additional support from BB&T and Wells Fargo.