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Thumbs up: New financial tool could aid region's businesses

Jun. 18, 2013 @ 10:45 PM

Many businesses in Appalachia have the will and the know-how to reach the next level of success. But too often, they are unable to come up with the financial means, perhaps because attitudes about the region work against them or they simply aren't big enough to meet conventional lenders' criteria.

The Appalachian Regional Commission is working to change that. The commission, or ARC, announced last week that it will create Appalachian Community Capital, a sort of central bank to provide money to 13 community development funds spread throughout the region. These community development funds are often the only place where businesses in the region can turn for borrowing the money they need to expand, develop a new product, or retool to pursue a different business model.

Without that help, their prospects for growth diminish and so does their ability to create new jobs.

The organization said it will invest $3.4 million to launch the central bank, and it's completing commitments for $39 million more from philanthropic foundations, public investors and large commercial banks. It intends to leverage $233 million in private capital to create a projected 2,200 jobs in the 13 states it serves.

Having that sort of money on hand for worthy businesses that form the economic backbone of smaller Appalachian communities holds promise for a much-needed boost to the region.

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