N.C. shellfish industry gets a boost through loan program

  • The program will provide loans of up to $50,000 to qualified shellfish growers in all coastal counties in the state.
  • With over 1.4 million acres of prime coastal waters, 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.
  • The program was made possible by funds earmarked in the state budget passed in November 2021 by the N.C. General Assembly.

Shellfish aquaculture in North Carolina has gotten a big boost thanks to a recently announced loan program aimed at helping shellfish growers. 

In a press release, Raleigh-based Thread Capital, a subsidiary of the North Carolina Rural Center, along with Array Community Development Corporation, Beaufort, has announced The Shellfish Growers Loan Program, created in partnership with the North Carolina Coastal Federation.

“We’ll be able to give people the capital infusion they need to either pay staff or purchase equipment so they can grow,” Kevin Daniels, chairman of Array CDC, told Carolina Journal. “This is a much-needed economic infusion into the segment of the aquaculture industry.” Daniels’ wife, Lavonda Daniels, serves as vice president of Array CDC.

The program will provide loans of up to $50,000 to qualified shellfish growers in all coastal counties in the state.

“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.”

Daniels said the program stems from the Coastal Federation’s partnership with the state legislature to initiate a study in 2018. As a result, the legislature determined four areas to be necessary to improve the shellfish industry, including creating a loan fund.

He credits former Representative Pat McElraft, who served Carteret and Jones counties, for helping move it through the legislature and become law. 

The N.C. General Assembly earmarked funds in the state budget passed in November 2021.

Working capital and/or equipment loans will be available to new and existing North Carolina shellfish growers who already have a lease from the N.C. 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.

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 increase 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, said Ana Zivanovic-Nenadovic, assistant director of policy for the N.C. Coastal Federation. “The program will allow the growers to reach their full potential, which in turn will strengthen the coastal economy.” 

Daniels said there is also technical assistance that will be available to help with back-office support services as well.

Shellfish growers will be supported by Thread Capital, Array CDC, or a combination of the two organizations.

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