Ryan Bethea, owner of Oysters Carolina
Over the years, Self-Help has made many loans to entrepreneurs involved in all kinds of enterprises. Here our senior loan officer in Wilson, North Carolina, Robin Hall celebrates the success of an oyster farmer who is making a name for himself.
In July 2016, a young man named Ryan Bethea approached me about getting a loan for a side business. At that time he was employed by Franklin County schools, teaching eighth grade social studies. After further inquiry, I found out he was starting an oyster farm. Not being a big seafood fan, this was intriguing to me. I didn’t realize oysters could be “farmed”!
Ryan was seeking funds to purchase oyster seedlings for his venture. After gathering the information and the approval we needed, Self-Help was pleased to extend a loan to Ryan. Needless to say, Ryan was delighted to receive the funding.
As I underwrote the loan, I could see the potential for Ryan’s future success down the road; however, I didn’t realize how soon it would come. In September 2016, Morehead City hosted the annual NC Seafood Festival. For the first time ever, the Festival included a people’s choice award for the best oysters produced by a NC oyster farmer, highlighting the quality and flavor specific to the Tar Heel State.
Even as a start-up, Ryan received this coveted Oyster of the Year award. He told the Wilson Times that the recognition strengthened his original motivation for getting into this business: a passion for protecting and preserving North Carolina’s natural beauty and resources. What an inspiration for Ryan to continue his pursuit of oyster aquaculture! I can truly say I’m proud to be a part of Ryan’s success.
Photo courtesy of the Wilson Times.