Jill Hendrick of Pineville, West Virginia, says that entrepreneurship is in her blood. “My grandmother opened the first flower shop in Wyoming County in 1948,” she says. “I haven’t researched it, but I’d bet that she was one of the first women in the county to have a business license.” In addition to running the flower shop, Jill says that her grandmother was acquiring properties and “flipping houses before it was cool.”
At one point, the Wyoming County seat was driven by the coal economy—now, the economy is driven by the tourists who barrel into town to ride the Hatfield-McCoy trail system. Jill, a Pineville native and owner of Mountain State Property Pros, LLC and Ole Jose Grill & Cantina, has been both an observer and an active participant in the town’s economic evolution for more than 20 years.
At 19, Jill started working as a hairstylist, where she had the opportunity to listen to people talk about what their community needed and what was going on in the area. A few years later when she was 22, Jill was cutting a bank president’s hair when he told her about a building he had foreclosed on in Pineville. “He knew I had good credit, and at 22 years old that was the only thing I had going for me,” she says. “He financed the purchase of the building, which I still have to this day, and that got the ball rolling.”
As her entrepreneurial endeavors grew, Jill continued to cut hair and learn more about what Pineville needed. She learned about the need for rental property in the community and started renting to contract workers in the area. Meanwhile the popularity of the Hatfield-McCoy Trails– an 800-mile network of professionally managed ATV trails that links Pineville to dozens of “ATV friendly” towns–was growing. The Trails bring tens of thousands of visitors to southern West Virginia, and she recognized there was an opportunity to rent overnight accommodations to trail riders.
To seize this opportunity, she set out to acquire a set of 18 condominium units adjacent to a property she owned. “If you’re going to successfully rent to the trail riders, you need to have parking,” she says. “Having condominiums next to my other property means that both properties will be more appealing to riders.”
Jill contacted the Wyoming County Economic Development Authority to explore ways to finance the acquisition. “I got in touch with Christy Laxton at the EDA and she pointed me to Justin White, a loan officer at Natural Capital Investment Fund (NCIFund). In conjunction with the Hatfield-McCoy Regional Recreation Authority, NCIFund manages the Southern West Virginia Tourism Initiative, which provides business loans, entrepreneurial training, and other resources for businesses along the Hatfield-McCoy trail to support the development of a sustainable tourism economy.
“I knew Jill’s experience in the lodging industry and knowledge of the area would make her successful,” says Justin. “It was inspiring to work with an entrepreneurial woman, and she’s proving to be a great example of how we’re helping to build a new, entrepreneurial economy, one small business at a time.”
CornerSquare Community Capital partnered with NCIFund to provide the capital for Jill’s loan.
In addition to NCIFund, CornerSquare currently partners with four other Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs). CornerSquare purchases a portion of loans made by CDFIs to qualifying businesses, helping to reduce the CDFI’s lending risk and free up their capital to make more loans.
Jill marks the first of many entrepreneurs that CornerSquare will support. “Communities all across our footprint—and our nation—can thrive because of visionary and talented entrepreneurs like Jill,” says CornerSquare Executive Director Armeer Kenchen. “But, we have to make sure they have the resources and financing to bring their vision to life—and CornerSquare and our CDFI partners aim to do just that.”
In addition to her rental properties, Jill mentions that her restaurant, Ole Jose Grill & Cantina, would not have been able to grow and thrive without the Hatfield-McCoy Trails. “The Trails have transformed the town. While so many rural places in West Virginia are losing population, Pineville has people coming–and staying,” says Jill. “So when you hear the trail riders coming into town in the morning, it’s just this beautiful roar. It’s the sound of our economy coming back to life.”
CornerSquare Community Capital is a subsidiary of the NC Rural Center and is made possible by the generous support of the Truist Foundation and the Truist Charitable Fund, a donor-advised fund created by Truist and administered by the Winston-Salem Foundation.