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New State Fund Provides Financial Boost To Rural Businesses

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SPRING HOPE — Millions of dollars are headed to rural North Carolina to turn dreams into reality. The Rural Economic Opportunity Fund was formed Friday to give big thinkers the money they need to get new businesses off the ground.

John Holland and Dan Nathan are on the cutting edge of space age textiles. They want to expandJFRG, a Nash County facility that makes bulletproof vests and a high-performance fabric that is so strong that it secures cargo in airplanes. They said finding financial backing in North Carolina was almost impossible.

"We could have probably expanded much quicker and in a short period of time if there had been some avenue that we could have gone to and understood the manufacturing needs which was not there," Holland said.

The state unveiled a plan Friday that will make it easier for rural businesses to receive loans. Private banks are adding money to federal funds for the largest pool of its type in the nation.

"What this fund is designed to do is to get those companies, that we know are growing and expanding, the money they need to grow quicker and hire more people more quickly," said Leslie Boney of theRural Prosperity Task Force.

JFRG was forced to get their funding from out-of-state investors. As a result, most of the profits from their company are sent to New York, not Nash County.

"The good news is that we're expanding, making money and hiring people," Nathan said. "The bad news is more than half of our profits are leaving the state of North Carolina."

State officials hope the fund will keep local businesses in North Carolina.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
Kamal Wallace, Web Editor

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