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Economic Opportunity

Our Strategic Priorities

Single white dogwood flower with green leaves poking out form behind,

We believe the ability to earn an income which can sufficiently support a family is at the foundation of sustaining a healthy life. We believe economic opportunity is our greatest weapon in the fight against poverty and to improve all social determinants of health. Dogwood Health Trust’s Economic Opportunity portfolio aims to equitably support every western North Carolinian in their efforts to earn a wage that will allow them to support themselves and their family, regardless of status, gender or ethnicity.

COVID-19 hit WNC’s tourism economy especially hard and shined a stark light on what our region already knew – that we must diversify. Using the philanthropic tools of impact investing and program-related investments, Dogwood Health Trust helps our region’s economic developers attract and grow local businesses to create a more dynamic economy with jobs that support families in their pursuit of healthy and fulfilling lives. 

Our Strategies*

  • Provide bridge funding to maintain jobs during COVID-19
  • Attract and/or expand companies in WNC
  • Support workforce training
  • Expand rural and diverse-led businesses
  • Expand broadband access

*Implemented in a manner consistent with our charitable purposes.

Our 2020 Investment – $11 million

The bulk of our jobs investments in 2020 were to support access to Payroll Protection Program and similar federal loan funds to help small businesses and nonprofits survive during COVID-19. 


  • Retain or catalyze 5,000+ jobs in our region
  • Diversify our regional economy by supporting advanced manufacturing and other suitable sectors


Partner Spotlight

Dogwood Health Trust partnered with Mountain BizWorks to help small businesses – especially those owned by women, minority, or rural residents – access emergency forgivable loan funds through the SBA’s Payroll Protection Program (PPP). America Mauricio-Becerra opened her first cafe in Burnsville in October 2017, after training and a business loan from Mountain BizWorks. A little more than a year later, in early 2019, she switched to a new location and format in Spruce Pine, opening Las Cruces Latin Fusion to a welcoming community. The first year was a great success, and then came COVID-19. At first, her eight employees were covered by unemployment while the restaurant obeyed state shutdown orders. But when those benefits ran out, America needed another solution.

“I am so glad that Mountain BizWorks exists here in this area. I feel proud because I got my first Mountain BizWorks loan four years ago, and now I am building a successful business in this rural area and providing jobs.”
- America Mauricio-Becerra Owner, Las Cruces Latin Fusion


Mountain BizWorks

Mountain BizWorks seeks to build a vibrant and inclusive entrepreneurial culture throughout the 18 counties in Western North Carolina. They work hard to help small businesses start, grow and thrive with the motto of “when small businesses succeed, we all prosper.”

Welding, STEM, and culinary workers with "EARN" written on top.