The Town of Chapel Hill announced on Jan. 13 that it issued 66 ReVive Recovery Grants to local businesses and entrepreneurs in partnership with The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro.
The grants, ranging from $1,000 to $4,500, are part of a broader economic recovery plan for the town called ReVive Chapel Hill.
In total, Chapel Hill and Carrboro businesses and nonprofits received $162,250 in grants through the program. The grant funds came from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act.
Along with supplying grants to aid pandemic recovery, the program aims to facilitate the creation of more minority-owned businesses and promote small businesses through social and traditional media.
More than 70 percent of the grant recipients were women-owned enterprises, and 44 percent were owned by people of color.
The Town, the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro received 88 applicants, who were evaluated on criteria such as financial reports and sustainability.
“We think it’s pretty important that we strengthen our business community and that it gets returned to pre-pandemic levels so that we can be a thriving community again,” Chapel Hill Director of Economic Development Dwight Bassett said. “There are still businesses today that struggle, especially with this Omicron strain, but we would like to come out of this pandemic and still have a good business community.”
The ReVive program consisted of three grant levels: micro, entrepreneur and small business. The micro grants were targeted toward people who have not yet started a business, while the higher level grants were aimed toward business support. There were four micro grants, 15 entrepreneur grants and 47 small business grants.
Keeping businesses open
Bill Darragh, owner of The Casual Pint franchise, received a $1,250 grant. He said the funds he received are going toward making outdoor seating at his Chapel Hill business more comfortable.
“I need the money,” Darragh said. “We’ve kept people employed, and on my patio I have nine brand-new heaters which I never would’ve thought I needed.”
Viking Travel, a women-owned travel agency in Chapel Hill founded in 1979, received a ReVive grant of $2,250. General Manager and President Ellen Holcomb said the money comes at an opportune time because the travel agency receives less clients in the winter months as fewer people are traveling abroad.
“Hopefully it will get us through January and February, when we have very few international travelers,” she said. “We hope that in the spring, that things will be different.”
B3 Coffee, a non-profit which aims to embrace neurodiversity, received a $1,500 grant through the ReVive program.
B3 Coffee Chief Financial Officer Greg Boheler said the timing of the grant was helpful, as B3 Coffee began two community programs earlier this month, and the funding will be used for management salaries and supplies.
Boheler noted that B3 Coffee has not been experiencing the staffing issues other companies have because the nonprofit follows a volunteer model.
“When we do pop-ups, our team member base is about 37 strong,” Boheler said. “We also have students who are at UNC undergrad, a lot of them are pre-health science students. When we do events, we have a list of people that are wanting to do it, so we’re going to continue to leverage that volunteer-based model for those things.”
The ReVive program grants from Chapel Hill are a good start for business support, Boheler said.
“I’d love to see them support organizations like B3 because at the end of the day, our impact is a community impact,” he said.
Stephanie Alston, the founder of Black Girl Group, a staffing and events agency, said the agency's $3,500 grant has already had tangible impacts on her business.
“2022 is getting off to a great start for us, and I owe that to that grant,” Alston said. “Some people may say, ‘Oh, it wasn’t that much money,’ but for a small business, that little bit can be a lifeline in many ways.”
Eleven percent of the ReVive grant recipients were nonprofit organizations, such as the Franklin Street Arts Collective.
Natalie Knox, the gallery manager, said the nonprofit's $4,000 grant helped to display local Indigenous art in an exhibit and will help to market the gallery’s location.
“We feel very fortunate for being here, and we’re excited to see what the future holds,” Knox said. “Because of this ReVive grant, we’re able to have a future.”
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