Innovative Lending Solutions: Independence Bank and KOA Working Together for Your Success

For over 20 years, Independence Bank (IB) has coordinated with Kampgrounds of America (KOA) by specializing in campground lending through the financing of acquisitions, refinances, and improvements.  IB has evolved to include an entire branch solely dedicated to working with campground owners and has a customer base that spans 42 states and Canada. IB is an active partner at KOA Convention, KOA-University, and KOA’s Buyer’s Workshop allowing them to learn alongside KOA and its franchisees to remain at the top of the industry.

It’s understandable that the recent upward movement of interest rates may have created some hesitation in taking on debt.  However, the path to financial prosperity is typically determined by cash flow, so interest rates should not dissuade you from taking advantage of opportunities to grow your wealth. Moreover, the campground industry has historically been a great investment, and the outlook forecasts continued success. Add to that KOA’s 60+ years of experience and an entire community of KOA owners to lean on for support and guidance, and an investment in campgrounds becomes even more appealing.

Leveraging the knowledge gleaned from involvement with KOA, Independence Bank has been able to tailor its products to match the innovation of KOA franchise customers. IB has financed everything from campground purchases and refinances to land acquisitions, playgrounds, solar panels, Gaga pits, patio sites, splash pads, Wi-Fi upgrades, cabins and much more. They review any proposal and try to find a financing solution that makes sense for each campground.

For existing owners, capital improvements are a great way to improve campground revenue. When considering any project, it should be supported by analysis that justifies the investment. KOA offers a wealth of knowledge, data, and tools for owners to investigate the viability of a plan. Each franchisee is provided with a business development consultant (BDC) to offer assistance in deciding what will work best for their campground, whether it’s adding a glamping experience, upgrading underutilized sites, or constructing a new bath house, along with help in pricing each site type. If considering a major expansion, KOA even has its own campground design team to help engineer the optimal layout.

Once a solid plan is in place for a new undertaking, funding becomes the next step.  IB has created a specific product just for these types of improvements, the Go-With-The-Flow loan (GWTF).  The GWTF loan is available only at IB and provides up to 100% financing, which helps you maintain existing cash reserves.  Campground owners can make upgrades to their property while paying the loan with fluctuating seasonal income. Repayment on a GWTF loan can be based on the revenue earned from the improvement or on the total number of camper nights. Coupled with KOA’s Royalty Incentive Program, which offers a royalty-free period, these resources provide valuable savings to franchisees for their capital improvements.

Independence Bank financing typically analyzes three major aspects of a loan request, including cash flow, loan-to-value and credit score.  Each of those requirements is summarized below:

  • The debt service coverage ratio (DSCR) is a measure of the cash flow available to pay debt payments. To calculate the DSCR, divide the net operating income by the annualized payment obligations for the campground.
  • Determining the loan-to-value (LTV) ratio is an assessment of the total debt associated with the campground in relation to its market value. IB requires a maximum loan-to-value of 75% for a campground purchase or refinance.
  • A credit score is a number that represents an individual’s historical performance of repaying debt. Credit agencies typically generate a score from 300 to 850 with Independence Bank requiring a 700 or better.

While IB reviews these requirements with each application, it’s still important to recognize the bigger picture of a project’s ability to enhance the cash flow of a campground operation. To start a loan request, it’s a simple process that requires a one-page application in addition to the following materials:

  • Historical tax returns
  • Profit and loss statements
  • Current financial statement

When considering financing needs, it’s vital to make sure that your lender understands the campground industry, is flexible enough to modify debt structure when needed, and has the experience to navigate the unique challenges that may arise.  It’s important to bank with someone who is prepared to work for you, understands your goals, and cares about the success of your campground.

Independence Bank has been in business for 50 years and has been banking campgrounds for more than 20 years. They understand campground lending and the hardworking individuals behind each operation. IB is committed to mutually beneficial outcomes with clients, and prides themselves on offering full banking services to customers with the latest technology and personal customer service. Their partnership with KOA and dedication to the well-being of each franchisee sets Independence Bank apart from other banks.

For more information about Independence Bank, please visit their website at

Kampgrounds of America, Inc. (KOA) is the world’s largest system of open-to-the-public campgrounds with 500+ locations across the U.S. and Canada united under the mission of “connecting people to the outdoors and each other.” The industry leader in outdoor hospitality, KOA’s family of campground brands – KOA Journey, KOA Holiday and KOA Resort – offer sites and amenities designed for every type of camping experience. In addition to unrivaled brand visibility, KOA offers campground owners unparalleled support, marketing, and technology. The company’s proprietary reservation software, K2, delivers campgrounds a completive advantage within the market. Founded in 1962 in Billings, Mont. and celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2022, KOA now serves more than a million camping families each year, who rely on the standards of excellence and unique outdoor adventures for which KOA is known. For more information, visit

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