Access to capital is one of the biggest obstacles to small business and entrepreneurial growth in Appalachia. In 2013, with seed money from ARC and other partners, Appalachian Community Capital (ACC) was founded to increase business lending opportunities and new sources of capital via community loan funds and Regional Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). As a lending intermediary, ACC raises capital for its 22 member Regional CDFIs. By growing the net capital base and program capacity of participating loan funds, these CDFIS are making it possible for Appalachian businesses and entrepreneurs to create high quality jobs, retain local wealth, and improve the quality of life in the Region.
In 2019, ACC received $1.5 million via ARC’s POWER Initiative to launch Opportunity Appalachia, a specific initiative assisting 16 local communities in developing investment proposals to attract additional capital into federally designated Opportunity Zones. This effort is anticipated to create over 1,800 jobs and bring $365 million in financing to develop manufacturing facilities, downtown development, tech business, agricultural facilities, hotels, broadband deployment, and retail enterprises into coal-impacted communities.
In June, 2020, ACC used ARC support to stand up the Emergency Business Response Assistance Program in response to the COVID crisis. This program invested $3.5 million in redeployed ARC funds in 31 Regional CDFIs and other mission-driven community development finance lenders, such as Revolving Loan Funds (RLFs), to cover operational costs and offset some lost income accrued from suspending, or reducing, payments from their borrowers during the COVID-19 crisis. Through this program, lenders are also providing operational support and direct technical assistance to Appalachian small business and non-profit borrowers. Through this program, ACC anticipates improving 400 Appalachian businesses and organizations, and 200 companies, attracting $15 million in leveraged private investments, and retaining 200 jobs.
“At a time when Appalachia—like the rest of the country– is addressing the challenges of both a health and economic crisis, I’m grateful to ARC for its continued leadership in supporting small businesses and community development finance lenders.” — Donna Gambrell, ACC President and CEO