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Thread Capital: Stitching resilience into communities

Thread Capital spent the last fiscal year as a lending partner in the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program, a statewide consortium of community partners and lenders working across the state to support small-business owners struggling with the economic impact of COVID-19.

As a NC Rapid Recovery partner, Thread Capital disbursed more than $55 million across more than 1,100 small-business loans, equating to 47 percent of total program dollars distributed so far. And as a NC Rapid Recovery lending partner, not only was Thread Capital able to support a higher number of small businesses than in years past, but more unserved and underserved entrepreneurs, including women, veterans, people of color, and individuals in low-to-moderate income census tracts. Read more about how NC Rapid Recovery helped entrepreneurs here.

Thread Capital’s support of entrepreneurs through NC Rapid Recovery protected small-businesses in vulnerable economic conditions, giving them space to innovate and become more resilient as the situation around the pandemic evolved. Just look at Western North Carolina-based Shipley Farms.

Shipley Farms, LLC received a small business loan from Thread Capital as a part of the COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program. COVID-19 upended every aspect of typical business at Shipley Farms, starting as soon as their restaurant partners started to struggle. Prior to the pandemic, 80 percent of their business was supplying beef to local restaurants from Charlotte to Wilmington. “I don’t think any industry has suffered more than the restaurant industry, especially the local restaurants with chefs willing to spend more on the quality of their food,” says Gray.

But the local restaurant industry isn’t Shipley Farm’s only tether to their community, nor was it the only source of COVID-19-related economic hardships for their business. Farmers looking to sell retail animal products need to have their livestock slaughtered and packaged at a USDA inspected processing facility. Due to widespread industry complications like slowed productions, workflow and labor issues, and COVID illnesses, getting Shipley Farms products inspected at the nearest facility became functionally untenable.

For Shipley Farms, the health of their business hinged on one solution: create and operate their own USDA-inspected facility. By collaborating with another business in their community, and through the support of a COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan administered by Thread Capital, Shipley Farms was able to successfully form Watauga Butchery, employing a dozen people in the process.

“It was basically that we could either go out of business or start an extra business and we figured, well let’s start an extra business,” says Gray Shipley, owner of Shipley Farms. “It ended up being a help for the rest of the community and other local farmers that didn’t really have an outlet.

Read more about Shipley Farms here.