Natural Capital Investment Fund is founded by The Conservation Fund, in partnership with the West Virginia Small Business Development Center and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC). Marten Jenkins is named Executive Director. ARC provides operating and loan capital, beginning 15 years of steadfast support for NCIF.
2002NCIF is certified by the U.S. Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution
—the first small business CDFI in West Virginia, serving 38 counties— and the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, a critical partner to NCIF throughout our growth, provides capital for NCIF’s lending.
NCIF makes its first loans, to Gauley Mountain Moulding in Craigsville, West Virginia, and Blue Smoke Salsa in Ansted, West Virginia. From 2001 to 2015, nearly 30% of NCIF’s loans support forest products, local foods and value-added agriculture companies.
NCIF makes its first loan using capital from USDA Rural Development (USDA RD) to the Cabins on Miller Ridge in Hico, West Virginia. USDA RD has been a critical partner for NCIF’s work in rural communities, providing $3.2 million in funds that NCIF has put to work in 27 companies since 2003. As of 2015, 77 percent of NCIF’s loans have gone to rural entrepreneurs.
2004NCIF begins operating statewide in West Virginia
. Our loan to Songer Whitewater
in Fayetteville, West Virginia, begins NCIF’s support for the river rafting industry and eco-tourism, a key economic engine for West Virginia. Between 2004 and 2011, NCIF makes $1.3 million in loans to rafting companies and related infrastructure, such as cabins and restaurants.
With support from the Mary Reynolds Babcock Foundation, NCIF expands to North Carolina and Virginia, opening its second office in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. By 2015, NCIF also maintains offices in Hendersonville and Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and Shepherdstown and Fairmont, West Virginia.
Our first North Carolina loan, to Piedmont Biofuels
in Moncure, North Carolina—which funds the purchase of a pumper truck to collect waste grease that is converted to biodiesel—begins NCIF’s support for renewable energy companies
in Asheville, North Carolina, turns to NCIF for working capital to fund its growing solar thermal and photovoltaic PV business and develop its first solar farm. By 2015, FLS installs its one millionth solar panel, reaches over $100 million in revenue, and employs 55 people.
2009The Grain Bin Project for Disadvantaged Farmers
launches in North Carolina in partnership with the North Carolina Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. NCIF pairs microloans with cost-share grants to 20 limited-resource farmers to install on-farm grain bins. They earn more from their harvests through futures contracts and timing the sale of grains.
NCIF expands its service area to the Appalachian regions of Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee to participate in the Ford Foundation’s wealth creation strategy.
NCIF’s Energy Initiative is launched
to provide loans, energy audits and project assistance to small businesses. Our loan to Rock Cave IGA
in Rock Cave, West Virginia, for energy efficient upgrades to its lighting, coolers and freezer reduces the store’s utility expenses by 25 percent.
NCIF launches the Value Chain Cluster Initiative (VC2)
to connect growers and markets, create and retain jobs, and leverage private investments in the local food sector in 17 West Virginia counties. VC2 has created or retained more than 350 jobs and leveraged over $2.2 million in private investment in West Virginia’s local food systems.
NCIF makes its first craft brewery
loan to Big Timber Brewing
in Elkins, West Virginia, the first of eight loans to craft breweries in West Virginia and North Carolina. Craft breweries not only create jobs, but also purchase locally-grown produce and malt made from local grains, creating new markets for independent farmers.
With loan capital and operating support from CEI and CEI Capital Management, LLC, and the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, NCIF launches the Sustainable Logging Initiative
in Georgia and South Carolina to fund timber harvesters who operate in accordance with sustainable forestry and safe logging practices.
NCIF expands to western Maryland
, making our first Maryland loan to Firefly Farms
, a goat cheese maker in Accident, Maryland, to install solar panels that reduce operating costs and the company’s carbon footprint.
NCIF’s loan fund tops $25 million, and we make a record $7.9 million in loans to 38 businesses. We launch our Farmers of Color Initiative
with an accounting assistance cost-share program that defrays growers’ costs of setting up financial record-keeping and engaging an accountant.