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$4.5M In Grants Available To Local Hospitality, Retail And Service Businesses

By Staff Reports, posted Jul 1, 2021
Local business owners in the hospitality, retail and service industries can apply for a portion of $4.5 million being offered by New Hanover County and the city of Wilmington from federal COVID-19 relief funds, according to an announcement Thursday.

In partnership with the county and city, the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce will be administering the grants, “which is intended to support businesses who were hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent restrictions on business,” according to a chamber news release. “The Hospitality, Retail, and Service Grant will benefit businesses located in New Hanover County in the retail, service, leisure, hospitality and childcare sectors.” 

The release stated that the grants will be scaled in size based on the number of employees retained by the applying companies. Applications will be accepted today through the end of the day July 15.

The city is chipping in $2 million from its nearly $26 million in American Rescue Plan funds, while the county allocated $2.5 million of its $45 million from the relief money.

New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman said in the release that during the pandemic, local businesses showed “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.”

Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said businesses and local governments working together can make “a major positive difference.”

He said, “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.”

Some of the guidelines for the grants include:
  • The funds must be spent by Aug. 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.
  • The 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 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.
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