Loan program now available to qualified shellfish growers

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Oysters served in half shell. File photo

Qualified shellfish farmers in all coastal North Carolina counties can now apply for loans of up to $50,000 for business-related expenses such as payroll or equipment.

With more than 1.4 million acres of coastal waters biologically and physically suitable for shellfish farming, the new shellfish producer loan program announced Wednesday is designed to support the shellfish industry in the ‘State.

Thread Capital, a subsidiary of the North Carolina Rural Center, and Beaufort-based Array Community Development Corp., which specializes in innovative programs and strategies that support individuals, small businesses and organizations, have worked with the North Carolina Coastal Federation to create the program. . The federation publishes Coastal Review.

“We are excited to be able to offer this new loan product specifically to shellfish growers in North Carolina,” Thread Capital executive director Jonathan Brereton said in a statement. “The economic and environmental impact of this program will be invaluable and will ensure that the shellfish industry continues to grow and thrive in North Carolina, and we are grateful to all of the partners involved in making this program possible.”

Working capital and/or equipment loans of up to $50,000 are available to new and existing shellfish growers who already have a lease from the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality as well as the United States Department of Agriculture Uninsured Disaster Assistance Program coverage. Terms will range from 12 to 60 months, depending on the use of loan funds.

“Communities thrive when small businesses can access resources and support services. Local solutions combined with strong community partnerships often drive sustainable job growth and we are honored to be part of this initiative to help shellfish producers,” said Lavonda Daniels, Vice President of Array Community Development. Corp. in a press release.

Array Community Development Corp. notes on its website that they “specifically focus on small businesses owned by people of color, women, low-income people, and people living in rural areas.”

Establishing a loan program was a recommendation of “North Carolina’s Shellfish Strategic Plan: A Vision for 2030,” a broader strategy that aims to grow the industry to $100 million in value. market and create 1,000 new jobs by 2030.

Funds for this program were earmarked in the state budget adopted in November 2021.

The federation was instrumental in initiating the project in an effort to revitalize the region, promote economic development and protect the environment, officials said.

The Federation’s deputy policy director, Ana Zivanovic-Nenadovic, said this is an important step in the growth of the shellfish industry in the state. She represented the federation as chair of the advisory committee that developed the strategic plan.

“The program will allow producers to reach their full potential, which will strengthen the coastal economy. By expanding their businesses and putting more oysters in the water, farmers will contribute to the Federation’s overall efforts to improve and preserve the quality of coastal waters and its natural habitat,” she said.

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