Borrower Spotlight: Clean energy lending and technical assistance supported by Partner Community Capital
December 13, 2023
Calvert Impact and Partner Community Capital (PCAP) have a longstanding relationship that spans over two decades. After making our first loan to PCAP in 2007 – only $25,000 – we have seen them grow and expand their geographic footprint. We made our most recent loan of $3.5 million in 2019.
Introduction to Partner Community Capital
Established in 1999, PCAP, formerly known as Natural Capital Investment Fund, is a certified community development financial institution (CDFI) focused on advancing equity and helping communities flourish in Central Appalachia and the Southeast of the US. PCAP lends to businesses, non-profits, and agricultural enterprises so they can improve quality of life in underserved communities through job creation, delivery of vital products and services, and environmental stewardship.
Through the first quarter of 2023, PCAP lent more than $142.9 million to 633 enterprises that have created or retained over 23,800 jobs, primarily for low- and moderate-income individuals. More than half of the businesses it supports are owned by women or people of color, and over 85% are in rural or economically distressed communities. In 2022, PCAP delivered over 5,000 hours of technical assistance to 5,514 small businesses, prospective borrowers, and clients of the West Virginia Women’s Business Center.
Partner Community Capital is headquartered in Charles Town, West Virginia and maintains offices across West Virginia and North Carolina; it also serves the Appalachian regions of surrounding states.
Green lending and technical assistance
In 2008, PCAP launched its Energy Efficient Enterprise Initiative (E3) in West Virginia. The program is designed to help small businesses and agricultural producers implement energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements to reduce their use of fossil fuel, as well as improve their profitability and financial strength through the reduction of energy expenditures.
The E3 Initiative offers business advisory services to its clients which include education and consulting assistance. PCAP also helps coordinate energy audits to determine if an investment in energy improvements or a renewal energy system makes economic sense for a business. PCAP has developed a regional network of certified energy managers and industrial engineers to provide energy audit- and solar array design-related services to support its clients. The organization funds 100% of the energy audit for qualified small businesses with the support of its partners. During the post-assessment process, PCAP often assists with the implementation of recommendations, with some of these services resulting in loans from PCAP.
To date, Partner Community Capital has directly assisted more than 150 companies and funded over 100 energy assessments for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program.
PCAP’s lending services provide market-rate financing for solar and other renewables, building retrofits, energy efficient equipment, and system upgrades. The organization also offers equipment, working capital, and real estate financing for companies in the clean energy supply chain. As of November 2023, the organization has financed over $5 million in energy savings and generating projects.
Supporting energy efficiency
Partner Community Capital recently issued a loan to Firsthand Foods, a women-owned, mission-driven, B-Corp certified, food hub located in Durham, North Carolina. Firsthand Foods connects humanely-raised beef, pork, and lamb with local consumers.
Global supply chain arrangements dominate the meat industry, while small-scale farmers are often denied access to market opportunities. Firsthand Foods focuses on building a robust market for local, pasture-raised meats that consumers can trust were raised humanely in a spirit of fairness and stewardship. The business is a network of small-scale pasture-based livestock producers that shares the same values of dignity, quality, accountability, and innovation. The livestock producers sell their animals to Firsthand Food, where they aggregate, market, and distribute their meats to retail and food service customers. In return, Firsthand Foods provides the farmers with meat quality and pasture management information, allowing the farmers to make adjustments as needed to meet their customers’ standards.
PCAP’s loan will enable Firsthand Foods to purchase a more energy-efficient walk-in cooler for their business and help reduce energy costs.
Jennifer Curtis, CEO of Firsthand Foods, said of their relationship with PCAP and the loan, "Partner Community Capital's ongoing financial support is instrumental in our strategic expansion at Firsthand Foods as well as our commitment to sustainability. We used our loan from PCAP to purchase a state-of-the-art, energy-efficient, 900 sq ft walk-in freezer and cooler. This crucial new piece of equipment allows us to store and deliver even more responsibly sourced meats to our communities.”
Learn more about our portfolio partners on our website.