The City of Chapel Hill announced Jan. 13 that it has awarded 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 larger economic stimulus plan for the city called ReVive Chapel Hill.
In total, businesses and nonprofits in Chapel Hill and Carrboro have received $162,250 in grants through the program. Grant funds came from the federal government through the American Rescue Plan Act.
In addition to providing grants to help with 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% of grant recipients were women-owned businesses and 44% were owned by people of color.
The City, Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership and The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro received 88 applicants, who were evaluated on criteria including financial reporting and sustainability.
“We think it’s pretty important that we build up our business community and get it back to pre-pandemic levels so we can get back to being a thriving community,” said Chapel Hill’s director of economic development, Dwight Bassett. “There are still businesses today struggling, 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 included three levels of grants: micro, entrepreneur and small business. The micro-grants were for people who had not yet started a business, while the higher-level grants were aimed at business support. There were four micro grants, 15 entrepreneur grants and 47 small business grants.
Keep businesses open
Bill Darragh, owner of The Casual Pint franchise, received a $1,250 grant. He said the funds he received were used to make seating outside his Chapel Hill business more comfortable.
“I need the money,” Darragh said. “We’ve kept employees, and on my patio I have nine brand new heaters that I never thought I’d need.”
Viking Travel, a women-owned travel agency in Chapel Hill founded in 1979, received a $2,250 ReVive grant. Chief Executive and President Ellen Holcomb said the money comes at an opportune time as the travel company receives fewer customers during the winter months as fewer people travel overseas.
“Hopefully this will get us through January and February when we have very few international travellers,” she said. “We hope that in the spring things will be different.”
B3 Coffee, a nonprofit that aims to embrace neurodiversity, received a $1,500 grant through the ReVive program.
B3 Coffee’s chief financial officer, Greg Boheler, said the timing of the grant was helpful because B3 Coffee launched two community programs earlier this month, and the funding will be used for salaries and management supplies.
Boheler noted that B3 Coffee hasn’t encountered the staffing issues that other businesses have because the nonprofit follows a volunteer model.
“When we do pop-ups, our team member base is around 37,” Boheler said. “We also have students who are undergraduates at UNC, many of them are health science students. When we do events, we have a list of people who want to do it, so we’re going to continue to leverage that volunteer-based model for those things.
Grants from Chapel Hill’s ReVive program are a good start for business support, Boheler said.
“I would love to see them supporting organizations like B3 because ultimately our impact is community impact,” he said.
Stephanie Alston, the founder of Black Girl Group, a recruitment and events agency, said the agency’s $3,500 grant has already had tangible impacts on her business.
“2022 is off to a good start for us, and I owe it to this grant,” Alston said. “Some people may say, ‘Oh, that wasn’t so much money,’ but for a small business, that little bit can be a lifesaver in many ways.”
Eleven percent of ReVive grant recipients were nonprofit organizations, such as the Franklin Street Arts Collective.
Natalie Knox, the gallery’s manager, said the nonprofit’s $4,000 grant has helped showcase local Indigenous art in an exhibition and will help market the gallery location.
“We feel very lucky to be here, and we’re excited to see what the future holds for us,” Knox said. “Thanks to this ReVive grant, we can have a future.”
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