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Pacific Seacraft receives N.C. Rural Center funding

By By DAN PARSONS
Staff Writer
Pacific Seacraft, Beaufort County’s newest boat-manufacturing business, is getting a leg up from the state to set up shop in Washington.
The N.C. Rural Economic Development Center announced Tuesday that the company has been awarded a $350,000 venture-capital loan to purchase property and cover construction and equipment costs.
Father-son team Stephen and Reid Brodie bought the business at a federal bankruptcy auction last October. The pair then had the company’s assets trucked from California to North Carolina. The Brodies have been leasing warehouse space off Third Street to contain the unfinished yachts and equipment they purchased until a permanent home for the business is found. The space is being rented from National Spinning Co.
The Brodies have been searching for property in Beaufort County on which to locate the business. Neither one could be reached for comment Tuesday.
The company’s handcrafted cruising sailboats typically sell from $189,000 to $520,000. At the time the company went bankrupt, it employed 140 workers and produced about 120 boats per year. Some of the company’s craftsmen and other employees have traveled with the company to resume their work in North Carolina. The younger Brodie has said he and his father plan to add local boat builders to their work force once the business is up and running.
The grant, along with two others of equal value, are the first investments from the Rural Center’s Rural Venture Fund. The $6.8 million rural-focused venture capital fund was created in 2007 to boost entrepreneurship in economically distressed areas of the state.
Roanoke Manufacturing, an agriculture equipment manufacturer based in Bertie County, and Duplin County-based Moulding Solutions Inc. also received loans through the venture fund. In choosing where to invest its money, the Rural Center targeted existing businesses located in economically distressed areas of the state.
The grants were awarded on the basis that the Rural Center will see a return, but on “less demanding” terms than traditional venture-capitalist investments, according to Patrick Woodie, the Rural Center’s vice president for rural-development programs.
The Rural Center also recently announced that Pantego Area Community Developers has been awarded a $21,000 to explore possible business uses for the former Pantego High School gymnasium.
The grant is one of 48 grants announced recently by the Rural Center and aimed at stimulating rural economies and relieving symptoms of drought across the state. The grants total $14.6 million. Funding for those grants was appropriated by the General Assembly.
All told, the grants are expected to create about 1,100 new jobs, 130 new businesses and help protect the state’s water sources from future drought.
PACD intends to use the historic gym to house its Save Our Youth Program, which serves the county’s at-risk youth. The group will also make the gym available for social events that will help generate income for the group’s efforts.
The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners gave the OK for the county to administer the grant on behalf of PACD.