Infrastructure & Equipment Financing
For Food & Farm Businesses in Western North Carolina
Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIFund) and EmPOWERing
Mountain Food Systems (EMFS), a project of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems, are teaming up to provide affordable financing and support to small– and mid-scale and limited resurce farmers and food businesses to obtain the infrastructure they need to expand and grow their businesses.
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.
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.
- Attend at least one counseling session with their local Small Business Center prior to financing.
How Does the Financing Work?
The program is eligible for equipment/infrastructure purchases of $15,000 or more.
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).
- Use of funds: Purchase of equipment or infrastructure by eligible businesses.
- Amount: Minimum loan of $10,500, based on detailed invoices prepared by vendors.
- Terms range from 24 to 120 months, depending on loan size and farm/company’s ability to repay.
- Interest rate: Fixed, 6-8% as of 12/19. Rates reset after 5 yrs. for loans with terms > 5 yrs.
- Origination fee: 1% of loan amount.
- Collateral: A first lien on the equipment/infrastructure to be purchased additional collateral may be required (e.g., for used equipment or self-constructed infrastructure).
- Guarantee: Personal guarantee by any owner of 20% or more of the enterprise.
- Underwriting includes 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: http://bit.ly/foodfarmloans
- Obtain a quote and/or prepare an enterprise budget for your purchase.
- After completing the interest form, EMFS will reach out to confirm your eligibility and will connect you with an NCIFund representative to discuss your financing needs and determine if a loan is right for you.
- If required by EMFS or NCIFund, participate in training and/or business counseling as requested.
- Provide NCIFund 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 NCIF-EMFS Grant and Loan Brochure here.