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Rural Center grants $3.3 million for CDFIs to grow

The NC Rural Center has granted $3.3 million to six Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) or those with CDFI applications pending so they can expand their capacity to make loans. The grants were awarded through a $5 million program funded by the North Carolina General Assembly.

“The NC Rural Center thanks the General Assembly for investing in building the CDFI industry in North Carolina,” said Patrick Woodie, president and CEO of the Rural Center. “Increasingly, CDFIs are critical in serving our state’s small businesses, especially for people who need loans of less than $250,000. This program fills a significant funding gap for our CDFIs by putting money into growing the capacity of these organizations and helping them get more capital to more small businesses.”

CDFIs specialize in loans to people and businesses in under-resourced or low-wealth communities. Many also offer coaching and financial education. During the pandemic, the Rural Center brought together eight CDFIs in North Carolina to rapidly distribute federal recovery money. The General Assembly created this program in 2022 to encourage growth in the sector.

Projects funded:

  • Business Expansion Funding Corp. – $500,000 to expand services to Eastern North Carolina
    Carolina Community Impact – $450,000 to hire staff, grow and scale SBA Community Advantage program
  • UP Community Fund – $250,000 to expand staff and develop marketing plan
  • Partner Community Capital – $725,000 to hire commercial lending assistant, revise loan policies and procedures, and purchase new technology
  • National Institute of Minority Economic Development – $775,000 to hire four new staff members, upgrade and expand their data management and reporting capabilities
  • Mountain BizWorks – $736,000 to expand rural lending presence and community engagement, add technical assistance capabilities and improve their technology and data systems.

“Mountain BizWorks is extremely grateful for this timely investment from the CDFI Capacity Building Grant Program,” Matthew Raker, Executive Director, Mountain BizWorks. “As North Carolina continues to rebound from the pandemic and is experiencing record rates of entrepreneurship, it is more important than ever to ensure our small businesses have access to the funding and training they need to start, grow, and thrive. This support will directly expand our capacity, including more staff on the ground in rural communities and needed technology upgrades and will result in an expected $18 million in new financing for rural Western North Carolina’s small businesses over the next two years.”

The Rural Center will award the money remaining in the program through a second round of grants.

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