NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Program Urges Qualifying Businesses and Farms to Apply for Updated Loan Program

As part of the state's ongoing pandemic recovery outreach, the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery loan program has expanded services to reach even more North Carolina small businesses in need of loans; focusing on underserved, diverse businesses

The Rapid Recovery Loan program for small businesses and family farms launched in March by a coalition of nonprofit lenders in response to the COVID-19 related economic crisis.

The program was again part of the General Assembly's recent economic recovery legislation signed by the Governor to support the state's economy during the pandemic.

As the pandemic continues to affect the economy, the Rapid Recovery program has adapted, adding key features to aid the business community including expanding the loan size cap and qualifying business criteria, technical assistance for small-business owners and an extended loan repayment term. Under the new guidelines, businesses may borrow up to $250,000 with no payments and 0.25 percent interest for the first 18 months.

Program administrator, the NC Rural Center, is urging all businesses and small farms in need of assistance to consider applying for this program to sustain or adapt their business to the realities of the pandemic. The application deadline for the program is October 15, 2020.

Raleigh - The NC Rural Center is urging qualifying businesses to apply for COVID-19 Rapid Recovery loans through the program deadline set for October 15, 2020. After the most recent pandemic recovery legislation, signed by the Governor last week, the small-business and family farm-based loan program has funds available to immediately loan to qualifying businesses statewide.

The Rapid Recovery program was initially launched in late March to support small business owners and family farms in the wake of the pandemic. To-date the program has distributed 1,062 loans to North Carolina small businesses. To further support this community, the loan program has adapted, based on loan applicant feedback, to provide technical support for small-business owners and extended loan repayment timelines. Under the new guidelines, businesses and farms may borrow up to $250,000 with no payments and 0.25 percent interest for the first 18 months.

"This program was launched this spring as an urgent response to the historic economic crisis facing the backbone of our state's economy--small businesses and family farms," said NC Rural Center President Patrick Woodie. "We appreciate the confidence given to the Rapid Recovery program once again by state leaders, and these program changes will allow the program to better serve business owners and farmers dealing with the long term impacts of the pandemic."

The NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Program launched three days before the CARES Act was signed into law. The program started with an initial $15 million in funding from the Golden LEAF Foundation and since that time, private and public entities, including the North Carolina General Assembly, supported by the Governor, have expanded the program's available lending capital.

To address the ongoing challenges presented by the pandemic and help boost this loan program to as many potential businesses as possible, the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program offers technical assistance for business owners seeking to complete an application, including credit counselors to help business owners better understand their loan options. The loan's terms have also expanded from a 60-month repayment term to a 102-month repayment term.

The NC Rural Center is promoting available loans to communities statewide to reach a broad range of businesses including newly qualifying businesses, existing borrowers who may be eligible for additional funds, and potential borrowers who started the application process, but did not continue for various reasons. In addition, the program is sharing Rapid Recovery information with its funding partners; as well as association groups whose members may qualify for the loans.

"Hundreds of Restaurant and Lodging businesses have already turned to the Rapid Recovery program to help them stay afloat," said Lynn Minges, president of the NC Restaurant & Lodging Association. "Expanding the program to offer loans up to $250,000 with 18 months of no payments makes it a very useful tool to help businesses in the most affected industries as they adapt to the realities of the pandemic."

To-date, the loan program has administered more than 1,000 Rapid Recovery loans, totaling more than $37 million. Currently, 64 percent of the approved NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery loans are to historically underutilized businesses (HUB), which are primarily women- and minority-owned businesses. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, about 31 percent of employer businesses in North Carolina meet the HUB definition. Additionally, of the loans made, approximately 77 percent have been to businesses with fewer than 10 employees.

"We are committed to raising awareness that these funds are available through this carefully vetted and proven loan program that's geared to help small businesses stay on their feet by helping them make payroll, pay rent or pay vendors," said Woodie. "The State and our partners stand with North Carolina's businesses--not only during the good times, but also during the tough times we are currently facing."

For information about eligibility, loan terms, and necessary documentation, visit the NC Rapid Recovery FAQ page. Applicants can contact ncrapidrecovery@threadcap.org to be connected with technical assistance. The deadline to apply is October 15, 2020.

About the NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program

The NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan Program is driven by a partnership between the Golden LEAF Foundation and the NC Rural Center, as well as a consortium of established North Carolina nonprofit lenders, including Business Expansion Funding Corporation (BEFCOR), CCI Fund, Carolina Small Business Development Fund, Mountain BizWorks, Natural Capital Investment Fund, Piedmont Business Capital, Sequoyah Fund, and Thread Capital. The Golden LEAF Foundation provided initial funding for this program, and capacity to meet the current demand has been expanded through funds appropriated by the North Carolina General Assembly, as well as by public and private contributions. The Rural Center acts as a program administrator, managing the flow of loan applications to lending partners for underwriting and servicing.

About the NC Rural Center

For 30 years, the NC Rural Center has worked to develop, promote, and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians. The Rural Center serves the state's 80 rural counties, with a special focus on individuals with low-to-moderate incomes and communities with limited resources.