Opportunity Appalachia announces 9 projects to bring development to WNC communities

Press release from Mountain BizWorks:

Opportunity Appalachia and Mountain BizWorks today announced the selection of nine projects to participate in a program to bring jobs, business support, and investment to the Appalachian communities of western North Carolina. The selected projects propose to create nearly 350 jobs and attract nearly $70 million in financing, and range from redevelopment of downtown buildings to outdoor recreation to hotels to food and manufacturing facilities.

Opportunity Appalachia received 75 applications for technical assistance from across Central Appalachia (Southeast Ohio, East Tennessee, Western North Carolina, Southwest Virginia, and West Virginia). 34 total projects were selected, with the potential for the creation of over 1,700 jobs and attraction of over $177 million in financing for projects in downtown and rural areas across Central Appalachia. This builds on the 2020-2021 Opportunity Appalachia efforts, which supported 17 projects seeking to raise over $250 million in financing.

These proposed projects are signals of the growing investment potential in our rural and downtown communities in Central Appalachia. Opportunity Appalachia will work closely with private investors, banks, Community Development Financial Institutions, New Markets Tax Credits investors, Historic Tax Credit Investors, Opportunity Zone investors and Federal agencies to highlight participating communities and access financing for transactions.

The selected projects in North Carolina are:

-Blue Note Junction LLC, Blue Note Junction Community Health and Business Incubator, Asheville, NC – Construction of co-working and business incubator space for minority owned and led businesses, the facility will serve as an economic engine and health catalyst for the community. The project will include retail space for local goods, a commercial kitchen, fresh produce sales, house a social enterprise supporting reinvestment in local minority owned businesses, a performance space/ theater, and a business incubator providing development services. Estimated costs total $4.5 MM and create at least 40 jobs paying living wages or higher.

-Eagle Market Streets Development Corporation, Catawba Vale Community Center, Old Fort, NC – Development of a 60,000 sq. ft. two-story warehouse into a community-owned asset that provides space for an employee-owned apparel manufacturer as an anchor tenant, as well as local restaurants, locally-owned retail, a Montessori school, and community space for entrepreneurs and local community organizations. The minority-led project sponsor estimates total costs to be $5.1 MM with anticipated creation or retention of 75-100 above living wage jobs.

-Watauga Meats and Butchery, LLC, High Country Value-Added Facility, Zionville, NC – Development of a 6,000 sq. ft. building into a meat processing facility producing high-quality smoked and cooked meat products, including sausage, charcuterie and other items. This project is the second phase of a community-led effort to improve food security in Northwest North Carolina and expand regional processing capacity for farmers. The locally-owned Ellison Farms will also operate a community market in the front of the butchery, creating further markets for local producers to sell their products. Estimated costs total $1.3 MM with anticipated job creation of 8-10 jobs.

-Camp Grier, Grier Lodging Project, Old Fort, NC – Creation of a roughly 75,000 sq. ft. outdoor recreation hub that will be used to support an equitable outdoor recreation economy in Old Fort, NC. The Hub will contain light commercial space, camping and van spaces, long-term rental housing, short-term rental lodging, and provide direct access to a 100+ mile trail complex within walking and riding distance of downtown Old Fort. Estimated costs total $20 MM with anticipated creation of 30 jobs.

-City of Shelby, The Hotel Charles, Shelby, NC – Restoration and redevelopment of the historic 32,000 sq. ft. Hotel Charles in Shelby, NC into an upscale-boutique hotel, with approximately 36 rooms. Once completed, the three-story hotel will offer guests walkability to Uptown restaurants, local tourist attractions, event venues, and walking trails. An anticipated 25-30 new jobs will be created, and the approximate hospitality tax for year 1 of operation is approximately $86,000. Estimated costs total $7-8 MM.

-Clay County Rural Development Authority, Lake Chatuge Boutique Hotel, Hayesville, NC – Development of a new 65 room boutique hotel in Hayesville, NC would be the only hotel in Clay County. In addition to the 65 guest rooms, the three-story hotel on the shores of Lake Chatuge would include a full-service restaurant, flexible indoor meeting space, an outdoor pool, health/recreation facility, and lake access. Estimated costs total $20 MM with approximately 85 much needed quality jobs in this county.

-New Jackson, LLC, Sylva Stay, Sylva, NC – Restoration of an 8,000 sq. ft. hotel built in 1925 in downtown Sylva, NC. The restoration will include opportunities for mixed-use, façade improvements, and the re-creation of the original roof monitor providing an amenity for hotel guests and a unique feature to Sylva’s downtown. Estimated costs total $1 MM with anticipated job creation of 10 construction jobs and 10 permanent positions.

-Nikwasi Initiative, Noquisiyi Cherokee Cultural Learning Center, Franklin, NC – Development of a 7,048 sq. ft. former auto sales building into a cultural learning center adjacent to the Noquisiyi Mound, the largest unexcavated Native American platform mound in the Southeast. The mound will be landscaped with native food plants that the ancestors of today’s Cherokee would have grown or foraged and it will present awareness of the Cherokee connection to nature. Estimated costs total $3.75 MM with anticipated job creation of 10 construction jobs and 14 permanent positions.

-Town of Franklin, Scott-Griffin Hotel and Rooftop Restaurant, Franklin, NC – Restoration of the four-story 16,500 sq. ft. former Scott-Griffin Hotel in downtown Franklin. The addition of a rooftop restaurant will offer a 360-degree view of the Nantahala and Cowee mountain ranges. The building currently has retail operations on the first floor, with the upper three floors vacant for more than 50 years. Estimated costs total $5-7 MM with anticipated creation of 30 jobs.
For the complete list of projects in North Carolina and other states, see the Opportunity Appalachia webpage.

Opportunity Appalachia will now provide technical assistance to these selected projects to support the development of investment prospectus, structuring of project financing, market research, operations planning, architectural design, and investor outreach.

Once project technical assistance is completed, a highly visible Investor Convening event will be held in early 2023 that will target both local and pre-vetted national investors, as well as federal and state funders. A curated web-based platform hosting prospectus / pitch decks will also be made available to facilitate investor due diligence.

“Opportunity Appalachia is bringing essential expertise to WNC to help community prioritized projects move from idea to investment ready,” added Matt Raker, Executive Director of Mountain BizWorks. “We’re excited that the 9 projects funded in this round represent $70 million in potential investment and are from all corners of the NC mountains.”

Opportunity Appalachia is supported by the Appalachian Regional Commission, the US Department of Treasury CDFI Fund, Truist, Goldman Sachs, and the Dogwood Health Trust.

“Congratulations to the 34 project partners selected to participate in the 2022 Opportunity Appalachia program,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “This is an incredible example of what’s possible when we work together to make positive impacts in the region that will reverberate for generations. Thanks to Appalachian Community Capital and its many partners for spearheading this program to diversify and strengthen economies throughout Central Appalachia.”

“We are thrilled to continue to bring much needed financial and technical resources to our region to help Appalachia secure investment in job creating businesses such as manufacturing, IT, agriculture, downtown development, healthcare, education, heritage tourism and recreation,” remarked Appalachian Community Capital (ACC) President & CEO Donna Gambrell, whose organization coordinates the Opportunity Appalachia effort. She added, “We expect to strengthen or help establish over 230 businesses leading to the creation of more than 1,700 new jobs and generate private and public investments totaling nearly $177 million. This builds on our 2020-2021 Opportunity Appalachia efforts, which supported 17 projects seeking to raise over $250 million in financing.”

Opportunity Appalachia is led by an eight-member consortium of regional and national organizations with expertise in financing and marketing that will support local projects to develop sophisticated investment packets geared toward prospective investors. Opportunity Appalachia partners include: Appalachian Community Capital,OhioSE, Opportunity Southwest Virginia / UVA – Wise, Mountain BizWorks, West Virginia Brownfields Assistance Center, University of Tennessee Knoxville, Main Street America, and Coastal Enterprises.

ACC is a 30-member CDFI lending intermediary whose members and their affiliates manage over $1 billion in assets supporting economic development across Appalachia.

The Appalachian Regional Commission grant is made under the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, which is an integrated, multi-agency effort to align and invest federal economic resources in communities and regions negatively impacted by changes in the coal economy.

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