SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.V. —The Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIF) — a green business lender and an affiliate of the national nonprofit Conservation Fund — and the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority (Hatfield-McCoy) announced their partnership focused on creating jobs and improving quality of life in coal-impacted communities in southern West Virginia. Using a total of $2.6 million in grants from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) the two organizations will expand access to capital and business advisory services for tourism-related businesses and help diversify the region’s economy.
NCIF will use its $1.25 million award as seed capital for a revolving loan fund to support tourism-related small businesses in Hatfield-McCoy Trail communities. The project is expected to create 200 new jobs and 20 new businesses, as well as leverage $5 million additional in private investments in the region.
“NCIF is grateful for ARC’s support for the transition of coal-impacted communities to a post-coal economy,” said Marten Jenkins, President of NCIF. “This funding will allow NCIF to help accelerate the formation of new businesses and support entrepreneurs who are capitalizing on all of the natural assets and opportunities the region has to offer for a more diverse economy.”
Hatfield-McCoy will also use its $1.3 million to support tourism-related jobs and businesses, through a comprehensive program that includes business coaching and marketing services, as well as supporting marketing efforts for all-terrain vehicle trails in West Virginia, Kentucky and Virginia. The project will create 225 jobs and 50 new businesses along the trails.
“We are excited about the opportunity the ARC funding has provided and are grateful to ARC for making this substantial investment into Southern West Virginia,” said Jeffrey Lusk, Executive Director, Hatfield-McCoy Trail Regional Recreation Authority. “The grant provides us the ability to partner with NCIF and other partners such as Southern West Virginia Community College to expand the Hatfield-McCoy Trails and to grow entrepreneurship in Southern West Virginia.”
The funding is part of President Obama’s Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, which distributed awards totaling $38.8 million to 29 economic and workforce development projects across multiple states, creating an estimated 3,418 jobs.
Both projects will be supported by additional matching funds from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.