By Chelsey Fisher
The Appalachian Regional Commission opened a new bank called Appalachian Community Capital in June to increase loans and other capital that small businesses in Appalachia receive.
Industry analyses have shown that over the past several years, banks across the nation have instituted tighter credit requirements for small-business lending and reduced their risk-taking ability. Combined with the tough ongoing economic environment, it remains difficult for business owners in some parts of Appalachia to receive loans.
Appalachian businesses, on average, receive 82 percent of the money from loans that comparable businesses receive outside of the region, while businesses in Appalachia’s economically distressed counties receive less than 60 percent of the loans of their national counterparts.
“There’s a stigma in Appalachia that says, ‘You’re profoundly rural, you’re profoundly uneducated and you’re remote, and we’re not going to spend the time to get in there and provide you the financing,’” Ray Moncrie, a creditor who gave $6 million to the new bank, told The Charleston Gazette.
The Appalachian Regional Commission made the first investment into this bank, donating $3.45 million of equity. Through partnerships, ARC hopes to add another $39 million of equity.
In the next 24 months, ARC hopes to add $233 million in private capital to create 2,200 jobs in 13 states, and help the bank make a business plan and become a not-for-profit entity.
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency that works in 13 Appalachian states. Its goal is to improve infrastructure, add jobs, and help Appalachia compete in a global economy.
On July 30, 2013, faith and community leaders in West Virginia joined together to call for measures to reduce carbon pollution and clean up the state’s waterways, which are threatened by mercury and selenium pollution.
“There is no time to delay, as the health and well-being of our children is already being affected,” said Rev. Mitch Hescox of the Evangelical Environmental Network.
Participants at the gathering in Morgantown emphasized their moral responsibility to West Virginia’s children to clean up the environment.
“As a pro-life Republican, let me add that we must set aside partisanship and come together to protect God’s creation from climate change,” said Rev. Hescox. “American ingenuity can help us cut down on pollution, champion energy efficiency and create the next generation of jobs while protecting our kids from harm.”