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Operating Capital

For Food & Farm Businesses in Western North Carolina

Help with farmingMountain BizWorks and Mountain Food Systems (EMFS) – a project of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems – are teaming up to provide affordable financing and specialized support to small– and mid-scale and limited-resource farmers and food businesses. These services can help them obtain the infrastructure and capital needed to grow and expand their businesses.

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What’s the Program For?

This grant/loan program is designed to “buy down” the cost of purchasing equipment or infrastructure for farm and food businesses Eligible uses can range from cold storage and value-added processing equipment to planting and harvesting equipment.

Who’s Eligible?

North Carolina businesses who:

  • Farm in, produce in, or purchase from producers in the seven western counties of NC (Haywood, Graham, Jackson, Macon, Swain, Cherokee, or Clay) or on the Qualla Boundary.
  • Currently sell or process vegetables, fruit, meat or other agricultural products or run other food-related businesses.
  • Have a business plan in place for their business.
  • Can provide an enterprise budget for their proposed loan
  • Preference is given to applicants who attend at least one counseling session prior to requesting financing.
How Does the Financing Work?

The program is eligible for equipment or infrastructure purchases of $15,000 or less. The EMFS grant will cover up to 30% of the cost of the infrastructure or equipment being purchased. Minimum grant: $4,500 (30% of $15,000). Maximum grant: $7,500 (for projects of $25,000 or more).


The EMFS grant will cover up to 30% of the cost of the infrastructure or equipment being purchased. Maximum grant: Up to $4,500 (30% of $15,000).

Use of Funds: Purchase of equipment or infrastructure by eligible businesses

Amount: Minimum loan of $1,000

Terms: Typically range from 1 to 5 years, depending on loan size and ability to repay

Interest rate: Fixed, 7 to 10% as of December 19, 2019

Origination fee: 2% of loan amount

Collateral: A first lien on the equipment or infrastructure to be purchased and additional collateral may be required

Guarantee: Personal guarantee by any owner of 20% or more of the enterprise

Underwriting: Includes a review of credit report and tax returns

Borrower equity: A minimum of 5% required on all loans

How Do I Participate?

Fill out this interest form to see if you are eligible:

  • Obtain a quote and/or prepare an enterprise budget for your purchase.
  • EMFS will reach out to confirm your eligibility and will connect you with a Mountain BizWorks representative to discuss your financing needs.
  • If required, participate in training and/or business counseling as requested.
  • Provide Mountain BizWorks with annual tax returns including all statements for the life of the loan.
  • Participate in evaluation related to the impact of these funds on your business.

You can also download the Mountain BizWorks – Operating Capital Brochure here.

For general inquiries or to get started, contact: