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The Rural Impact Fund Difference

Our team has worked in rural community and economic development for decades. Over that time, we have learned what works and what does not. ARI was founded to be different than others in the field, bringing a fresh and customized approach to a system that is often cookie-cutter and generic. Still, what do we mean by different?

  • We are proactive. Rather than wait for communities or businesses or come to us, we actively pursue strategic targets that will have significant impact on the region.
  • We think innovatively. Many businesses and communities, especially in rural areas, can improve through better use of technology, digitization of traditional industry and operational efficiencies. Our technical assistance is designed to demonstrate how advances in technology and adaption of creative fields can lead to better, more sustainable operations and healthier economies.
  • We concentrate on rural and underserved areas in the Delta. These are areas where few lenders are available and access to capital is most limited. They also have an immense opportunity to leverage smaller investments toward much greater economic, financial, and social returns.
  • We are committed. ARI knows that only sustained support has a chance of making improvements in areas that have been declining for decades. We serve as long-term, trusted advisors for communities and businesses as they navigate ongoing opportunities and challenges.
  • We are outcome focused. Our model does not assume that ARI will always be the lender. In fact, we actively seek partnerships with banks, investment organizations, and other CDFIs to provide the best package for borrowers. We strive to make borrowers successful – thereby reducing their risk, as well as lenders’ – by providing the best options, high-quality expertise, and sharing resources.
  • We take a forensic financial approach to technical assistance. Breaking down the pieces and reassembling them in a variety of ways allows us to look at things differently. Our compact suite of tools has been tested and implemented around the country. For businesses, we analyze which products/services, markets and methods are the most effective. For communities, we determine which projects will have the greatest impact for the investment.

RIF Technical Assistance Partners

The Alliance for Rural Impact is a comprehensive economic and community development organization. In addition to our experienced professional staff, we collaborate with expert-level consultants who join in on a project-by-project basis when and where their expertise can add value and create impacts for a community. Our collaborating partners are recognized as some of the top consultant teams in their respective fields:

Council of Development Finance Agencies (CDFA)

CDFA is a national association dedicated to the advancement of development finance concerns and interests. CDFA is comprised of the nation’s leading and most knowledgeable members of the development finance community representing hundreds of public, private and non-profit development entities. CDFA will play a key role in the implementation and operation of the loan fund. Through assisting with the planning, creation of policies and processes, and strategy for capitalization of the loan fund as well as playing a role in the servicing of the established loan fund, CDFA will be a critical partner.

Dr. Byron Clayton

Dr. Byron Clayton is a technology entrepreneur, economic development executive and former CEO of Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) located in Pittsburgh, PA. ARM is a public-private partnership launched by the Department of Defense and Carnegie Mellon University supported by an $80 million commitment that now includes over 200 organizations from around the nation. Because of his unique skill set, Dr. Clayton will lead the implementation efforts for businesses pursuing financing for tech-based business solutions. His expertise will help business owners think creatively to address operational and workforce challenges, and new technological opportunities to ultimately create improved profit margins, product quality and business sustainability. While at ARM, he developed a proprietary de-risking model for businesses considering tech adoption on which ARI’s unique technical assistance model is built.

Nick Bush

Nick Bush is the founder and Principal of Bush Consulting Group, a business advisory firm based in Cleveland, Ohio providing technical and strategy services to leaders of innovation-driven organizations of all sizes. Mr. Bush will play a significant role in the technical assistance delivery for the lending program. Utilizing a proprietary methodology, as developed over 25 years of consulting to top-tier companies and organizations, Mr. Bush will conduct business valuation analyses and provide recommendations that will result in greater efficiency, productivity and sustainability for the businesses we serve. These recommendations will be the basis of the business plan and act as a structure for follow-up advisory sessions with each client.