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Rural Center invests more than $1 million

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RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina Rural Economic Development Center has announced the first investments from its $6.8 million Rural Venture Fund.

The group will invest more than $1 million in three companies in rural and distressed areas of North Carolina that promise to boost local economies.

A Beaufort County yacht builder, a construction equipment manufacturer in Bertie County, and a floor molding business in Duplin County each will receive $350,000.

“By investing in these companies at this stage in their development, we help maximize their success and its impact on rural workers and the economy,” Billy Ray Hall, president of the Rural Center, says in a statement.

Pacific Seacraft, bought at a bankruptcy auction in California last year and relocated to Washington, N.C., will use the investment to purchase property and cover construction costs for its handcrafted yachts, which it plans to sell for $189,000 to $520,000.

The new owners of Roanoke Manufacturing, which was reduced to four employees by the combined the effects of natural disasters and the 2001 recession, will use the investment to help purchase and upgrade the farm-equipment maker. The company then plans to hire 100 local workers.

Moulding Solutions, which is outgrowing the five buildings it fills, will use the funds to help streamline operations under one roof.

Created in 2007, the fund combines investments from the North Carolina General Assembly, the Golden LEAF Foundation and the Rural Center.

The fund provides existing businesses with investments of $50,000 to $350,000 and expects a return, though a smaller one than traditional venture capital financiers.

The Rural Center also provides each recipient with technical advice through partnerships with the University of North Carolina system and others.

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