Rural Hope provides grants that spur economic activity and job creation by assisting in the construction and expansion of health care facilities in rural North Carolina.
In September, 2007, HWTF partnered with the Golden LEAF Foundation to develop a credit enhancement program to enable rural hospitals to secure low-cost financing for desperately needed upgrades and renovations to their physical plant, clinical equipment and information technology systems. HWTF and Golden LEAF committed $1 million each to underwrite a loan loss reserve fund. Due to the financial market collapse in 2008 and the resulting impact on the credit market, the $2 million loan reserve fund no longer yielded the same access to capital as was envisioned when the project was originally funded in 2007. Instead of the 20:1 capital to loan reserve ratio, the market would have barely provided a 5:1 ratio.
Recognizing that the original Rural HOPE model to create a loan reserve fund was not viable in the 2007-08 credit environment, HWTF and Golden LEAF approved the decision to work collaboratively with the NC Rural Center in early 2009 to fund applications that came in through their Request for Proposal (RFP) soliciting grant applications to spur economic activity and job creation by assisting in the construction and expansion of health care facilities in rural areas. The Rural Center allocated $5 million to award grants of up to $480,000 each over 2 years. The grant required a minimum 1:1 match from the applicant (only funding up to 50% of a project) and at least one job was required to be created for every $12,000 in grant funding. Funding from the Rural Center was also expected to leverage significant public and private funding.
The NC Rural Center received 27 applications in response to its RFP that closed on June 1. Staff from all three organizations met and selected projects to fund that would meet their organization’s funding criteria. Staff reviewed applications and conducted reverse site visits to determine which grants met its funding criteria and priorities.
Upon completion of internal reviews, all three organizations awarded grants in mid-September 2009. Approximately $3.8 million was awarded resulting in nearly 310 new jobs being created in rural health care.