New Grant Supports West Virginia Downtown Redevelopment

Natural Capital Investment Fund and Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center to Support Diverse Economies and Job Creation

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.V.— The Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIFund) was awarded $1.7 million in funding to cultivate healthy downtown commercial districts in West Virginia, working alongside for-profit developers, independent building owners, nonprofit development groups and commercial tenants.

With support from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) POWER Initiative in the amount of $1.37 million and $345,000 in nonfederal matching funds from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation, and in partnership with the Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center (NBAC), NCIFund will develop a comprehensive impact investment strategy to transform vacant, dilapidated and/or underutilized commercial properties into thriving business centers, vibrant residential and community facilities, and cultural assets.

NCIFund will use $1 million to serve as seed capital for the Downtown Appalachia Redevelopment (REDI) Loan Fund, leveraging another $3 million to establish a permanently dedicated $4 million revolving loan fund for commercial real estate development in West Virginia downtowns. In addition to loan capital, REDI will provide hands-on project development assistance and financial assistance for pre-development services to developers, independent building owners, nonprofit development groups and commercial tenants to cultivate healthy downtown commercial districts in West Virginia.

Marten Jenkins, President of NCIFund stated:

“NCIFund is grateful for the confidence that ARC and the Benedum Foundation have shown in awarding these grants. We believe that West Virginia towns can be prosperous places where people want to work, live, visit, and invest.  There are tremendous opportunities – and businesses, entrepreneurs, developers and property owners with the creativity, energy, and commitment to capitalize on them. With this support, through REDI, the needed development resources will be there.

NCIFund has more than 15 years of successful small business lending throughout Appalachia, and REDI will expand our capacity to finance larger projects and develop deeper expertise in commercial real estate project development and financing, strengthening our organization as well as our communities. As the only statewide Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) serving West Virginia, a stronger NCIFund will be better able to serve our home state of West Virginia and the entire central Appalachia region.”

With the Initiative, NCIFund and NBAC will expand on the successful Downtown Appalachia pilot project led by NBAC, which utilized micro-level data to illustrate rural downtown market needs and redevelopment feasibility.

Patrick Kirby, Director of the West Virginia Northern Brownfields Assistance Center, detailed that:

“The NBAC Downtown Appalachia pilot confirmed the untapped potential of West Virginia historic city centers. REDI will build upon this success to not only stimulate financial investment, but enhance the quality of life for West Virginia residents by fostering diversified and resilient local economies, job opportunities, improved property values, and boost the sense of place in our downtowns. The NBAC is excited to partner in bringing the resources to bear that will deliver foundational transformation to main street.”

Funding for the Initiative is part of the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, which has distributed awards totaling $94 million to help 250 Appalachian counties diversify and grow their economies, creating and retaining nearly 8,800 jobs. REDI is expected to leverage an additional $8 million in other investments, supporting a total of $12 million of investment, and supporting 160 jobs.

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin commented:

“The Appalachian Regional Commission supports economic and community development throughout our rural communities in West Virginia – the only state fully within ARC’s borders. POWER Grants are particularly important to small communities like those in West Virginia, and I am pleased that our state will receive over $7.7 million, including funding for the Natural Capital Investment Fund to revitalize our downtown commercial districts. I’ve also been working to pass my legislation, the RECLAIM Act, to further enhance the link between reclamation and economic development. This legislation will help the many mining communities throughout West Virginia and the country that have been devastated by the decline in the coal industry, by deploying funds that are just sitting unused in the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund. These are important investments in improving our economy and quality of life in the Mountain State.”

U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito said:

“NCIFund and NBAC do incredible work supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout West Virginia. I’m so pleased this grant will be used to continue that support by investing in additional projects across the state. These types of investments are catalysts for economic growth and job opportunities, and I’m grateful to ARC for this investment in our downtown areas.”

About Natural Capital Investment Fund
Natural Capital Investment Fund supports entrepreneurs who are creating jobs and triple-bottom-line businesses in underserved communities in Central Appalachia and the Southeast. NCIFund is a business loan fund with expertise in eco-tourism, agriculture, alternative energy, forest products and community facilities. Founded in 2001, NCIFund is a U.S. Treasury-certified Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) affiliated with The Conservation Fund.

About The Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers
The Northern West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Centers were created in 2005 by the West Virginia Legislature to empower communities to plan and implement brownfields redevelopment projects.  The two Centers promote economic development and environmental and public health protection through innovative redevelopment of brownfield sites.  The Centers also promote and coordinate the development of brownfield property by providing training and technical assistance, facilitating site preparation efforts, engaging community involvement, as well as by helping communities with grant writing and leveraging project funding.

About The Conservation Fund
At The Conservation Fund, we make conservation work for America. By creating solutions that make environmental and economic sense, we are redefining conservation to demonstrate its essential role in our future prosperity. Top-ranked for efficiency and effectiveness, we have worked in all 50 states since 1985 to protect more than 8 million acres of land.

Marten Jenkins | Natural Capital Investment Fund | 304-870-2207 |
Eric Wuestewald | The Conservation Fund | 703-908-5813 |


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