Booster club

Rosman rising: With a loan from Self-Help/Carolina Mountains Credit Union, Curtis and Leah Buchanan bought a run-down building in downtown and sparked a little renaissance. Photo courtesy of Self-Help
Rosman rising: With a loan from Self-Help/Carolina Mountains Credit Union, Curtis and Leah Buchanan bought a run-down building in downtown and sparked a little renaissance. Photo courtesy of Self-Help

For Rosman business owners Curtis and Leah Buchanan, it’s all about helping their local community. When the couple decided to move their graphic-design business, Dabbler Graphics, out of their home and into a new space, they chose to renovate a dilapidated building in downtown Rosman, located south of Asheville, in Transylvania County. Plus, they financed the project with a loan from local credit union Self-Help/Carolina Mountains Credit Union (CMCU) — a loan that was funded with money from the credit union’s Go Local Certificate of Deposit.

It all started when the Buchanans noticed that the building was being foreclosed, says Curtis. “It was a bit of an eyesore downtown,” he says, “but it’s one of the few historical buildings left in the county. We thought the building had real potential as a small-business location, it just needed to be redone.”

With that in mind, the Buchanans applied for a loan with Carolina Mountains Credit Union/Self-Help so they could purchase and renovate the building for their in-home graphics business.

“We were running Dabbler Graphics out of our basement at the time, and we decided to clean up the property — not only to move our business there, but also to better the community,” says Curtis.

Soon after getting the loan, the Buchanans began renovations that transformed the historic building into a downtown gem.

“We’ve gotten so many compliments on our progress,” Curtis says. After moving Dabbler Graphics downtown, the couple took out another loan from Carolina Mountains for additional equipment, because business was quickly picking up.

“People would leave us notes asking for business before we had even finished with the building,” he says. Curtis and Leah now work fulltime at Dabbler Graphics, wrapping vehicles and making signs, T-shirts and banners. He jokes, “We have enough business now to work eight days a week.”

Dabbler Graphics isn’t the only venture that thrives in the newly renovated space. The Buchanans rent space to two local businesses: Shotgun Gypsies — an upscale antique store — and Wally’s Auction — a small auction that operates every Thursday night, where locals can bid for a variety of oddities, from classic antiques to high-grade power tools.

But the impact of the project has extended beyond this historic building. “It has spurred a lot of revitalization in the downtown,” says Curtis. The town has demolished several dilapidated houses near the building and beautified downtown Rosman, an area frequented by students from the elementary and high schools that are nearby. The high school even held a Clean Rosman Day, in which students participated in cleanup projects and painted a mural on the side of the historic building.

Jane Hatley, WNC Regional Director for Self-Help and a former commercial loan officer, praises the local impact of the renovation and Dabbler Graphics’ move.

“Projects like this are exactly why we created the Go Local CD,” she says.  “When people invest their money locally with us, we can turn around and put those funds right back into projects and businesses that benefit their community.”

CMCU/Self-Help began offering its Go Local CD in April this year, through a partnership with Asheville Grown. Since then, the credit union has accepted nearly $750,000 in Go Local deposits.  That money is available throughout the region for local small business loans, home mortgages and more.

The Buchanans agree with the philosophy behind the Go Local CD. As Curtis notes, “We’ve done all of our banking through Carolina Mountains Credit Union and moved our insurance to the local insurance agency; we try to stay local as much as possible.”

Through deposits in Go Local CDs, Self-Help/CMCU is able to make small business loans to people like the Buchanans, who work to create economic opportunity in their community and inspire others to do the same. To learn how you can invest your money in the local economy by purchasing a “Go Local” CD, call 676-2196, visit the nearest Carolina Mountains Credit Union branch, go to self-help.org or look for Self-Help Credit Union on Facebook.

— Ginny Cohen and Halcyon Garrett are summer interns for Self-Help Credit Union.

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