$4.5M awarded to hospitality and retail sector

Money (Photo: Public Domain Pictures)

WILMINGTON, NC (News Release) — There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and funds from the American Rescue Plan are going to help New Hanover County rebound and rebuild our local economy. The COVID relief package delivered more than $45 million to New Hanover County and nearly $26 million to the City of Wilmington in federal funding. Of this funding, $4.5 million will be made available to business owners living and operating in New Hanover County as a Hospitality, Retail, and Service Industry Grant.

In partnership with New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce will be administering the grant, which is intended to support businesses who were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions on business. The Hospitality, Retail, and Service Grant will benefit businesses located in New Hanover County in the retail, service, leisure, hospitality, and childcare sectors. Grants will be scaled in size based on the number of employees retained by the applying companies. Applications will be accepted beginning on July 1 through the end of the day on July 15, 2021. To learn more or apply, click here.  To view the application in Spanish, click here.

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“Our local businesses are an integral part of the fabric of our community, they enhance economic vitality, bring greater diversity, and employ thousands of our residents,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “And during the pandemic, they have shown incredible resiliency, changed their business models and operations to fit the needs of their customers, and have persevered. The Board of Commissioners makes it a strategic priority to support local businesses and enhance economic development in New Hanover County, and utilizing $2.5 million from the county’s American Rescue Plan funding and joining efforts with the city to add another $2 million for this grant program is directly in line with that goal. I appreciate the Chamber for partnering with us to administer the program, and the city working hand-in-hand with us to support our neighbors.”

City of Wilmington Mayor, Bill Saffo said, “I am grateful for the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce’s partnership in administering $4.5 million in city and county American Rescue Plan funds to local businesses still working to recover from the pandemic. When local governments and local businesses work together, we can make a major positive difference for our community and improve the lives and livelihoods of employees and employers alike. By swiftly and equitably distributing these recovery funds, we can play a meaningful role in putting Wilmington’s small businesses on solid footing so they can take full advantage of a rebounding economy.”

These funds must be spent by August 30, 2022. Funds can only be used for payroll to hire and rehire employees or for additional expenditures related to the business complying with State and Local orders to be COVID-19 compliant. These funds may not be used for rent, utilities, or expenditures related to normal business operations outside of payroll. Qualifying businesses must be independent, locally-owned and physically located in New Hanover County. Businesses also must have been in operation for six months prior to March 2020. At least one or more business owners must be a resident of New Hanover County. To learn more about the other qualifications, click here.

“Funding allocated to our community in the American Rescue Plan will accelerate the economic recovery in New Hanover County by helping businesses who have suffered tremendous economic losses during the pandemic. Jobs in the restaurant, retail, hospitality, childcare, and leisure were wiped out in our community as businesses struggled to stay afloat. The Wilmington Chamber is grateful for the opportunity to partner with New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington on this initiative and to be able to offer some assistance to these businesses,” said Natalie English, President & CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce.

For questions about the Hospitality, Retail & Service Grant program, please call 910-762-2611 or email info@wilmingtonchamber.org.