NC Rural Center, Institute for Sustainable Development, Partner to Help Rural North Carolina Business through Green Education, Micro Loans
The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center and the Institute for Sustainable Development have partnered to help businesses in the state’s 85 rural counties improve their bottom lines, linking Green Plus™ sustainable business practices access to capital for sustainable improvements and business lines.
- Interested businesses must fall into the the 85 rural county service area of the NC Rural Economic Development Center.
- Businesses located in these counties may download the application here and learn more about the Rural Center’s Microenterprise Loan Program here.
The initiative is one of Institute pilot projects to connect sustainable small business practices with economic development. The Institute is also piloting a program in Ohio with the Council of Smaller Enterprises and the City of Cleveland to connect sustainable businesses to advantages in pursuing local government contracts, and with the Greater Durham Chamber of Commerce on lowering barriers to small business sustainability efforts.
“We want North Carolina to show the country how green practices can save and create jobs in rural America,” said Chris Carmody, Executive Director of North Carolina Research Triangle-based Institute for Sustainable Development.
“Our Green Plus partnership is designed to help North Carolina’s rural businesses sharpen their sustainable practices, and then to connect them with the capital they need to either save money or add new business lines,” Carmody continued.
The North Carolina Rural Center is offering twenty-five (25) full scholarships for rural small businesses in North Carolina to participate in the Institute’s Green Plus™ program.
Participating businesses will have access to the full range of Green Plus™ tools to improve their business, environmental and community practices as well as assistance from the Institute’s Green Plus™ Graduate Assistants. Businesses will also have access to two Green Business Workbooks authored by the Institute specifically for rural businesses – one for existing enterprises, and another for rural entrepreneurs considering starting a green business.
After completing the first stage of Green Plus™, participating businesses may be eligible for micro loans of up to $25,000 through the Rural Center to implement new sustainable business lines or environmentally sound business practices that may save them money. For example, a farmer in the Green Plus program might discover a new way to conserve water and save money as an additional benefit. A mechanic might decide to add bio-diesel conversion to his existing business.
“Rural businesses naturally understand the principles of Green Plus™ and sustainable development generally: work smart, and conserve — don’t waste — precious resources — or money,” continued Carmody. “Main Street, rural communities are in a strong position to retain and create new jobs through sustainable business practices,” Carmody concluded.
About the North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center
The Center’s mission is to develop, promote and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians. The NC Rural Center serves the state’s 85 rural counties, with a special focus on individuals with low to moderate incomes and communities with limited resources.
To fulfill its mission, the center operates multifaceted programs with four overarching goals:
- Serve as the state’s rural policy leader and advocate
- Develop strategies to bring about economic and social transformation
- Deliver resources for rural people, businesses and communities
- Equip rural leaders to succeed in the 21st century
The center is a private, nonprofit organization funded by both public and private sources and led by a 50-member board of directors.
About the Institute for Sustainable Development and Green Plus™
The Institute for Sustainable Development is a North Carolina Research Triangle non-profit initiative of universities and chambers of commerce to help small businesses and their communities benefit from sustainable practices and to foster a new generation of sustainability leaders. The Institute’s North Carolina university partners include Duke University’s Nicholas School of the Environment, Durham Technical Community College, Elon University’s Martha and Spencer Love School of Business, North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
The Institute partners with the American Chamber of Commerce Executives, a 1,400 chamber of commerce network with 1.3 million business members, to offer Green Plus™ nationwide, and with seventeen regional chambers of commerce to provide sustainable business education in twelve states. It also runs a national Green Plus™ Sustainability Fellows program, training students from graduate schools around the country to help smaller enterprises understand and benefit from the triple bottom line.
The Institute for Sustainable Development