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A coalition of public and private organizations are partnering to assist in the state's recovery from Hurricane Matthew and other natural disasters

Sandbar Oyster Company's Oyster Catcher™ panels before Hurricane Matthew
Oyster Catcher™ panels torn from their supports(left) and Oyster Catcher™ panels buried in mud (right) after Matthew.
RALEIGH via The NC Rural Center - A new program is helping North Carolina's small business owners get back on their feet and get back to business after a natural disaster.

A coalition of statewide partners led by the Rural Center recently launched the North Carolina Small Business Recovery Fund, a way 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 fund was established to provide low-interest loans of up to $250,000 for terms of up to 10 years. The loans are available to help 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.

In addition to mitigating future loses, loans from the North Carolina Small Business Recovery Fund can be used to repair damaged buildings or equipment, purchase new buildings or equipment, or for other working capital and operational expenses. Funds may also be used to help businesses recover from lost revenues or reduced profitability as a result of the disasters or recovery efforts. Other uses can be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

"The small business owner is the anchor of many rural economies," said Rural Center President Patrick Woodie. "An interruption in their business due to a natural disaster can result in missed payroll or lost jobs. Those are disruptions that can affect the very way of life of an entire rural community or small town."

By providing quick access to much needed capital, the fund connects business owners to financial resources under favorable conditions. Some eligible small-business owners may even qualify for up to two years of no interest and/or deferred payments.

"Many small business owners and entrepreneurs are operating month-to-month to create jobs in their communities and provide much needed services," said Barry Ryan, the Rural Center's senior director of programs. "The fund aids their recovery and supports them in a way that is fair and does not burden their long-term sustainability."

The North Carolina Small Business Recovery Fund is designed to provide gap funding to complement Small Business Administration (SBA) loans and other disaster recovery programs. Qualification for SBA assistance is not a requirement for the Small Business Recovery Fund. Businesses who did not apply for SBA assistance or whose applications were not accepted, are still eligible to apply for a loan through the Small Business Recovery Fund.

The Fund is designed to support businesses like Sandbar Oyster Company in Morehead City. Sandbar's innovative Oyster Catcher™ panels were severely damaged in Hurricane Matthew, meaning millions of their seed oysters were lost and sales to customers gone.

"A direct hit by Hurricane Matthew on the Newport River near Beaufort damaged our oyster growing operation and compromised future earnings that we would use to operate and grow our company," said Niels Lindquist, one of the co-founders of the company. "After Hurricane Matthew, the Rural Center stepped up with a critical lifeline for Sandbar Oyster Company. With the loan, we were able to right our ship and resume our journey growing our coastal-focused business."

To learn more about the program, to review the full eligibility requirements, or to apply for a loan, visit: www.ncruralcenter.org/recovery
 
For assistance, please contact:
Barry Ryan
Senior Director of Programs
N.C. Rural Center
barry@ncruralcenter.org
919.250.4314
 
The North Carolina Small Business Recovery Fund is a partnership of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center, the N.C. Small Business and Technology Development Center, and the N.C. Community Colleges Small Business Center Network. Funding for the program is provided by Golden LEAF under the Disaster Recovery Act of 2016 passed by the N.C. General Assembly, along with additional support from BB&T and Wells Fargo. The North Carolina Small Business Fund and Community Development Initiative also received grants from Golden LEAF.