Three Roots Capital Makes Two New Markets Tax Credit Investments in Rural Manufacturers

Fitzgerald Trailers
Pictured (from left to right): Jeremiah Miller (Upper Cumberland Workforce Connections), Representative Kelly Keisling (District 38, Tennessee House of Representatives), Becky Hull (Upper Cumberland Workforce Connections), Will Hatfield (Truist Bank), Robert Fitzgerald (CEO, Fitzgerald Trailers), Chris Miller (3Roots), Brandon Wright (Sales Manager, Fitzgerald Trailers), and Len Braner (Chief Operating Officer, Fitzgerald Trailers).

In 2023, Three Roots Capital (3Roots) received a $45 million allocation of tax credits from the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund’s (CDFI Fund) New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) Program. With this allocation, 3Roots made two $22.5 million investments in rural manufacturers: Fitzgerald Trailers and Quality Metal Stamping (QMS).

3Roots’ NMTC strategy is to provide flexible, Qualified Low-Income Community Investment (QLICI) loans to manufacturing and office projects that create quality, accessible jobs throughout highly distressed communities in Appalachia and the Delta region. NMTC financing is one tool in 3Roots’ toolbelt for addressing the region’s lack of access to capital and the need for more quality, accessible jobs.

“The NMTC Program is incredibly competitive. Last year, only 102 NMTC applicants nationwide were awarded tax credit allocations. 3Roots is proud to be one of those 102 recipients,” said Chris Miller, Chief Financial Officer at 3Roots. “This investment allows us to better serve rural and low-income communities in our service region. By bolstering available job opportunities, we can help local economies create more high-quality jobs and attract additional capital to communities that need it the most.”

QMS is a fourth-generation family-owned and operated metal components manufacturing company. The company fabricates high-quality metal components and has two production facilities in Henderson and Humboldt, Tennessee.

3Roots’ NMTC support allows QMS to pursue a 20,000-square-foot expansion of its Henderson production space, purchase new manufacturing machinery and equipment, and increase its steel inventory. This project will enable QMS to create an additional 25 full-time positions, help it remain globally competitive, better service existing clients and more easily attract new clients.

“Quality Metal Stamping is thrilled to partner with 3Roots on our first NMTC transaction. They have been easy to work with and certainly understand the strategic alignment between capital providers, companies and the community,” said Colin Serling, Vice President of Strategy at QMS. “With newer equipment, the need to educate our current and future workforce has never been more important. We will continue to invest in education today for our future growth in the years ahead. Manufacturing is in our blood, and there has never been a more important time for this sector to flourish domestically.”

Backed by Fitzgerald USA, Fitzgerald Trailers is a new business that manufactures trailers for the commercial large truck transportation industry. Fitzgerald Trailers will equip two separate facilities to fabricate and assemble up to 2,000 commercial truck trailers annually in Byrdstown, Tennessee, and Tompkinsville, Kentucky.

NMTCs will allow Fitzgerald Trailers to fund its initial startup-up phase and accelerate its business plan by supporting faster access to equipment, purchasing inventory, and working capital deployment. Fitzgerald Trailers will be able to accelerate hiring beyond what it could self-finance, creating 282 jobs.

“The guidance provided by 3Roots made the process quick and efficient, allowing us to stay focused on bringing the product to the market while securing this vital financial support,” said Len Braner, Chief Operations Officer of Fitzgerald Trailers. “Thanks to the funding provided by the NMTC program via 3Roots, Fitzgerald Trailers can accelerate our time-to-market and capital investment for this product portfolio. Additionally, it will allow us to create quality manufacturing jobs in Byrdstown and Tompkinsville.”

“Truist has positively impacted businesses, created jobs and served communities through the New Markets Tax Credit Program since the program was founded,” said Chris Leutzinger, Senior Vice President and New Markets Tax Credit Relationship Manager at Truist Community Capital. “Our collaboration with 3Roots to support Fitzgerald Trailers will invest needed capital into Byrdstown and Tompkinsville, and is another example of how Truist inspires and builds better lives and communities across the regions we serve.”

3Roots is proud to leverage $45 million in NMTCs to help two rural manufacturers in Tennessee and Kentucky. These investments demonstrate 3Roots’ growth and ongoing commitment to pursuing high-impact projects in the Delta Region and Appalachia.

Contact the 3Roots team today to learn how NMTCs could benefit your project.

Three Roots Spotlight: Donna Gambrell

Donna Gambrell

Three Roots Capital (3Roots) is honored to have Donna Gambrell, President and CEO of Appalachian Community Capital (ACC), as a member of its Advisory Board. With four decades of government and public service, Gambrell’s expertise is an asset to 3Roots and its clients.

“If you had asked me when I graduated from college if I would be going into the community and economic development field, I would have said absolutely not,” said Gambrell. “Life never happens in a straight line. Careers don’t happen in a straight line, either.”

After she completed her bachelor’s degree in communications and journalism, Gambrell’s father encouraged her to get a federal government job to pay off student loans. Eventually, she began working for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), leading to a 16-year career culminating with her role as the Deputy Director of Compliance and Consumer Protection.

“In consumer protection, I worked with folks who may not have known they were signing their lives away or being scammed. They often just needed more financial education. I found the consumer protection work fascinating,” said Gambrell. “When you’re poor or low income, you don’t always get the kind of services and products that others who are in a stronger financial position receive.”

After Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast Region in 2005, Gambrell and other FDIC officials visited the hardest-hit areas. There, she was struck by the devastation facing low-income communities and people of color. She saw how community development financial institutions (CDFIs) were on the ground, directly helping those most impacted by the storm and economic fallout.

In 2007, she became Director of the CDFI Fund at the U.S. Department of Treasury. She was the agency’s longest-serving director and the first African American woman appointed to the role. During her tenure, the CDFI Fund experienced significant growth.

“It was the best decision I ever made,” said Gambrell. “I got to see CDFIs in all their glory across the country. It was inspiring to see their work and know that they were using funding from the CDFI Fund to build capacity and create real impact in the communities they served.”

In 2013, Gambrell left government service and went into private consulting. After a few years, she began working with Appalachian Community Capital and became the organization’s second CEO in 2017.

“There is a strong entrepreneurial spirit in the Appalachian region,” said Gambrell. “There’s also great beauty, tremendous resilience and a strong community spirit. Those things attracted me and have kept me engaged in the region, wanting to know more.”

Several years ago, Gambrell met Grady Vanderhoofven, 3Roots’ President and CEO, through Ray Moncrief, a 3Roots Board Member and former Chairman of the Board of Directors for ACC, among other roles. She joined 3Roots’ Advisory Board a couple of years ago.

“In her advisory position, Donna offers unique, strategic insight gleaned from decades of experience in banking, community and economic development, consumer protection, grants management and community relations,” said Vanderhoofven. “It has been an honor to work with her at 3Roots and to witness her work with vital investment initiatives like Opportunity Appalachia, an ACC project.”

Gambrell has enjoyed supporting 3Roots and watching the firm grow during her tenure. She loves seeing its impact on the communities it serves.

“Anyone who has the time to devote to being on an advisory board should do so,” said Gambrell. “You get to see and hear about fantastic projects underway, like 3Roots’ latest New Markets Tax Credits deals. Their coverage, products and services — it’s tremendous.”

Gambrell refers to NMTCs as the “jewel in the crown” for CDFIs because of their impact.

Gambrell noted that “NMTCs are public-private partnerships that invest in some of the country’s most devastated areas — in many cases, the most poverty-stricken and the ones that need the most infrastructure investment. In addition, the projects often create quality jobs. I love seeing the impact. That’s the best part about what I do.”