After 20 years of experience in the lumber business, the time had come for Jim Langdale to step out on his own.

Jim’s three-year journey began in the familiar timberlands of South Georgia, and ultimately led to a rural community in Southeastern Oklahoma. It was in this community that Jim found a profitable sawmill to acquire.

Tragically, soon after Jim arrived on the scene, a structural fire shut down the mill. With dozens of jobs lost, the livelihood of this local community was threatened – not to mention Jim’s dream of building his own lumber company.

“I was nervous, but I wasn’t about to let this be the end of the road. Saying that I felt like I had been blind-sided would be a serious understatement. It had taken years of hard work to get to this point and now I was looking at a potential disaster… not just for my family and me, but for the people who had relied on the mill for so long.”

Jim’s determination led him to research funding opportunities to restart the mill. And that’s when Jim came across the loan program sponsored by the USDA.

“…I was introduced to the USDA B&I program by Mr. Johnson (now President of North Avenue Capital, LLC). While most traditional lending sources would never allow a defunct, fire-damaged sawmill to serve as collateral for a loan, we were able to structure a deal that provided for the purchase of the business, the repurposing of the facility and, ultimately, the renewal of the community.”

Not only was the loan approved, more than 45 jobs were also created or reinstated, helping to restore a sense of financial security to the neighboring community.

The USDA business loan put people back to work and helped to revitalize the town. Access to capital and Jim’s hard work ultimately led to an opportunity for Jim to sell the mill to a larger institutional buyer within 12 months.

As a result, more jobs were created in the community (jobs directly associated with the sawmill as well as indirect community jobs), leading to even greater economic development in Antlers, Oklahoma.