LONDON, KY – He stood on stage with a former president, advised the leader of South Africa on rural economic development in the Cabinet Room of the White House, testified before Congress and received a national lifetime achievement award for his work with entrepreneurs.

Ray Moncrief has had a role in creating 14,000 jobs for almost 600 businesses in Southeastern Kentucky as executive vice president and chief operating officer for Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation since 1989.

He retired from that position Dec. 31 but will continue leading Meritus Ventures LP, a KHIC-managed $36.4 million venture capital fund focused on rural investing; and Southern Appalachian Fund LP, a KHIC-managed $12.5 million venture capital fund focused on investing in low-income census tracts.

“Ray has spent decades providing leadership and expertise in saving struggling companies and assisting emerging businesses,” said Jerry Rickett, president and CEO of Kentucky Highlands. “Because of his efforts and vision, hundreds of people are employed today and communities are stronger as a result.”

Moncrief moved to Kentucky in 1978 to be Chief Financial Officer of Outdoor Venture Corporation, a military tent manufacturer in Stearns, KY.

OVC, which has diversified and remade itself to stay competitive and thrive in a global economy, employs more than 230 people.
“You meet very few people in your life that are an enduring contributor to your business,” said J.C. Egnew, president of Outdoor Venture Corporation. “Ray Moncrief is one of those rare people who has been a great contributor. When he first came to work for the company, our business was deteriorating due to imports, and he helped us immensely.

“Ray has been a board member for more than 30 years. He’s an outstanding board adviser and has helped us make a number of successful transactions buying and selling businesses. He’s always been there when we need him – in tough times and in good times. He’s a dear friend of both the company as well as me personally.”

Moncrief represented KHIC when one of its initiatives was honored at the Clinton Global Initiative in 2013 and received the lifetime achievement award from the National Association of Seed and Venture Funds in 2012.

Although it is difficult to encapsulate a career in a few short examples, KHIC Executive Vice President and CFO Brenda McDaniel said these three projects exemplify his range of skills that have helped hundreds of families in Southeastern Kentucky:

His unique financial analysis skills were used in the development of an equity investment in Cumberland Gap Provision Company of Middlesboro, Ky. When the company first started, it had outside venture capital investors who eventually wanted to sell the company for its market share. Moncrief structured an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP) to purchase the company so that it would stay in the area. Cumberland Gap Provision Company later sold, and the employees, as owners of the company, received a contribution to their retirement plans. Current employment at the company, which is now owned by Smithfield Foods, is 323.

Moncrief demonstrated his passionate commitment to provide employment opportunities for area residents, when he designed a bankruptcy reorganization plan for Southeastern Kentucky Rehabilitation Industries, Inc, w hich provides employment opportunities and rehabilitative services for disabled and socially disadvantaged individuals. SEKRI expanded into three additional locations and currently employs 500 people.

Providing visionary leadership in the area of community development venture capital investment has been Moncrief’s primary objective. He has been instrumental in advancing the cause of access to capital for individuals and small companies located in disadvantaged areas. His most recent efforts have resulted in the development of the New Markets Venture Capital model, Rural Business Investment Companies, and Appalachian Community Capital which will provide millions of dollars of capital for investment in disadvantaged communities throughout the country.

“Ray is a pioneer and a singular leader of the national community development venture capital industry, whether servicing as chair of the board of the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance, working tirelessly for public policy to promote entrepreneurship and job creation in low-income and rural communities, or selflessly sharing his extensive knowledge and experience with new entrants to the field,” said Kerwin Tesdell, president of the Community Development Venture Capital Alliance, the association of venture capital funds that provide equity financing for businesses that create good jobs and entrepreneurial capacity in low-income communities in the United States and around the world. “It has been a pleasure to work with Ray as a colleague and a privilege to have him as a friend. I look forward to many more years of his leadership, guidance and friendship as he moves into a new stage of his life.”