RALEIGH, NC – Thread Capital, a subsidiary of the North Carolina Rural Center, and Array Community Development Corporation announced Friday the launch of a new loan program designed to foster shellfish aquaculture in coastal North Carolina.

The Shellfish Growers Loan Program, created in partnership with the North Carolina Coastal Federation, will provide loans of up to $50,000 to qualified shellfish growers in all coastal counties in the state.

Working capital and/or equipment loans will be available to new and existing North Carolina shellfish growers who already have a lease from the NC Department of Environmental Quality and USDA FSA Noninsured Disaster Assistance Program (NAP) coverage. Terms will be from 12 to 60 months, depending on the use of loan funds.

“We are excited to be able to offer this new loan product specifically to shellfish growers in North Carolina,” said Thread Capital Executive Director Jonathan Brereton. “The economic and environmental impact of this program will be invaluable and ensure that the shellfish industry will continue to grow and thrive in North Carolina, and we are grateful for all the partners involved in making this program a reality.”

Funds for this program were earmarked in the North Carolina budget passed by the NC House and Senate at the end of 2021.

Thread Capital has established a robust partnership with Array CDC, a community development organization based in Beaufort, NC, which specializes in innovative programs and strategies that support individuals, small businesses, and organizations. Shellfish growers will be supported by Thread Capital, Array CDC, or a combination of the two organizations.

“Communities thrive when small businesses are able to access resources and supportive services,” stated Lavonda Daniels, Vice President of Array CDC. “Locally driven solutions combined with strong community partnerships often spark sustainable job growth and we are honored to participate in this initiative to assist shellfish growers.”

Joining Thread Capital and Array CDC is the NC Coastal Federation, which was instrumental in getting the project off the ground with an eye on revitalization for the region, economic development, and environmental protection.

With over 1.4 million acres of coastal waters biologically and physically suited for shellfish growing, this program is part of a larger strategy that aims to grow the industry to $100 million in market value and create 1,000 new jobs by 2030.

“This is an important step in growing the shellfish farming industry in the state. The program will allow the growers to reach their full potential which in turn will strengthen the coastal economy. By scaling up their businesses and putting more oysters in the water the growers will add to the Federation’s overall efforts of enhancing and preserving the quality of coastal waters and its natural habitat”, said Ana Zivanovic-Nenadovic, assistant director of policy for the NC Coastal Federation.