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.

Apply Now!

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.
  • 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:

  • 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.

For general inquiries or to get started, contact: