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Biz Roundup: Federal, local relief programs offer assistance to struggling businesses

SALISBURY — With the passage and subsequent signing of the American Rescue Plan earlier this month, the federal government provided additional funding to help businesses recover from the pandemic.

Funding is available to businesses who have been hit hard by the pandemic through a variety of avenues, including the Paycheck Protection Program and the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants. 

Pumping up the PPP

Established by the CARES Act last spring, the Paycheck Protection Program has already received several rounds of funding and has dished out more than $700 billion in forgivable loans to businesses. The program received another infusion in the amount of $7.25 billion dollars from the American Rescue Plan. The plan did not extend the upcoming March 31 deadline for businesses to apply, but the U.S. Senate recently voted to extend the deadline by two months to May 31. President Joe Biden is expected to sign the extension into law soon.

More information about the PPP can be found online on the Small Business Administration’s website at www.sba.gov.

Aid for venues

The SBA recently announced it will begin accepting applications for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grants on April 8 through a portal on its website. The program includes $16 billion in grants and is open to venues like museums and live performing arts organizations that receive the majority of their income from ticket sales. Restaurants or bars that have live music as a side gig are generally not going to be eligible.

The SVO program was established in December and was later amended by the American Rescue Plan. Venues who received first and second-draw PPP loans can still apply for SVO grants, but SVO grant amounts will be reduced by the value of their PPP loans.

Here are some general rules for the SVO:

  • Eligible applicants may qualify for grants equal to 45% of their gross earned revenue, with the maximum amount available for a single grant award of $10 million
  • $2 billion is reserved for eligible applications with up to 50 full-time employees
  • Applying venue must have been in operation as of Feb. 29, 2020

More info about the SVO program can be found at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/loans/covid-19-relief-options/shuttered-venue-operators-grant#section-header-0.  

Program looks to resuscitate restaurants, bars

The American Rescue Plan also sets aside $28.6 billion for the Restaurant Revitalization Fund, which will provide restaurants and bars with grants equal to their pandemic-related revenue loss, up to $10 million per entity, or $5 million per physical location. The SBA plans to roll out the program in early April. 

Here are some of the expected rules for the program:

  • Restaurants will apply via the SBA, not local banks.
  • Restaurants will need a “DUNS number” (generally takes two days to receive) https://www.dnb.com/duns-number/get-a-duns.html
  • Restaurants will need a “SAM number.” To get one, register with the U.S. Government website: www.sam.gov (generally takes two weeks to receive)
  • Have 2019 and 2020 gross revenues ready; deduct any PPP loans
  • Federal package is $28.6 Billion; minority & women owned restaurants will have the first 10 -14 days to apply

County still accepting applications for restaurant grant program

Local aid is available to eateries in the form of Rowan County’s restaurant grant program

Applicants must have for-profit restaurant business with at least 26 employees, be based out of a brick-and-mortar address in the county and be locally owned. Restaurants are not eligible for grant funding if they previously received a $5,000 grant through the county’s small business grant program.

There are $250,000 in grants available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Nonprofit organizations are not eligible and a business must not have declared bankruptcy in the previous three years. Businesses delinquent on county property taxes are not eligible as well, but they can be eligible if the taxes are paid by the deadline.

Applications will be accepted online and in person at 130 West Innes St. on the second floor until April 15, at 5 p.m. Each application will be electronically or manually time stamped. If an applicant is selected, they will receive notification by email or phone and will have approximately 30 days to provide additional required documentation outlined on the program page.

More information can be found online at www.rowancountync.gov/1650/COVID-19-Small-Business-Grant-Program.

Duke Energy selects two sites in rowan for redevelopment program

SALISBURY — Duke Energy has selected a pair of Rowan County properties for its 2021 Site Readiness Program.

Through the program, Duke identifies high-potential sites and partners with county officials and local economic development professionals to develop a strategy for getting the site fully ready to market to industrial projects.

The Former site of the NC Finishing Company located at 2555 N. Highway 29 is one of the sites that has been selected. Featuring 176 total acres along the Yadkin River, the site is adjacent to I-85 and intersected by rail.

The other site is the Mid-South Industrial Building at 7401 Statesville Blvd. near Cleveland. Featuring approximately 1,000,000 square feet on 537 acres of land, the site is positioned near U.S. 70 and less than 15 miles from three interstate highways (I-40, I-85, I-77). 

Eastern Fence announced last year it is moving into a 65,000-square-foot facility on the site. 

“Our Site Readiness Program has been highly successful and a valuable tool for our partners and communities across the Carolinas,” Stu Heishman, Duke Energy’s vice president of economic development and business recruitment, said in a news release. “Our team works with local and regional partners to develop a strategy to advance the readiness of selected sites and recruit national companies to the Carolinas.”

These are the 11th and 12th Rowan County sites to be featured since the program’s inauguration in 2007.

“We’re grateful and excited to have two properties featured by Duke Energy,” Scott Shelton, Vice President of the Rowan EDC, said in a news release. “The evaluations of these sites helps to ensure that they are shovel-ready, and represent the high potential these sites have to an incoming or expanding business.”

EGGER celebrates three-year anniversary of groundbreaking

LINWOOD — This month EGGER is celebrating the three year anniversary of breaking ground on its $770 million complex between Salisbury and Lexington.

“Three years ago, after a very long and thorough site selection process, we officially broke ground on EGGER’s first U.S. plant,” Bernhard Ebner, plant manager at EGGER, said in a news release. “It’s truly astounding to see how far we’ve come since then and what’s been accomplished in such a short amount of time. It would not have been possible without the hard work of the entire EGGER team and the support of the Davidson County community.

The Austria-based wood product company began operations in September and currently employs about 350 people, with a goal of hiring a total of 770 employees by the completion of the three-phase project. 

The plant was the first North America site in the company’s international footprint.

This month EGGER is celebrating the three-year anniversary of the groundbreaking of its Linwood facility. Photo submitted

Since beginning operations, the EGGER plant currently produces more than 50 truckloads of raw board per day and is operating at 70% capacity. Approximately 30% of EGGER’s particleboard production will be laminated and sold as thermally fused laminate during the first year of production, growing to an estimated 60% in the coming years.

Phase one of the facility’s three-phase project will be completed in 2024 with phase two beginning shortly after.

“We look forward to continuing our expansion and for many more great years ahead,” Ebner said.

Rowan Vocational Opportunities names new board president

SALISBURY — Kelly Smith will serve as the president of the Board of Directors of Rowan Vocational Opportunities.

“Having worked with Kelly previously, she has demonstrated her commitment and passionate support for individuals and groups with developmental and intellectual disabilities,”  Gary Yelton, executive director of Rowan Vocational Opportunities, said in a news release. “I am looking forward to collaborating with Kelly and our other board members to positively impact the lives of those we serve in the greater Rowan and Cabarrus communities.”

Rowan Vocational Opportunities is a nonprofit rehabilitation organization that provides workforce development opportunities. The nonprofit maintains locations in Rowan and Cabarrus counties.

Smith is a graduate of East Rowan High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Catawba College. She currently serves as manager of legal compliance records for retail business services, LLC, a division of Ahold Delhaize, USA. She is also a member of the Granite Quarry Zoning Board of Adjustment and a member of Bethel Lutheran Church in Salisbury. 

Smith has been a board member for nearly ten years and replaces Gary Elmore, who recently accepted the position of production manager at the Cabarrus location of Rowan Vocational Opportunities. Elmore has served as a member of the RVO Board of Directors since 2011, and in 2016 assumed the president position.

Elmore will now join the Rowan Vocational Opportunities organization as a staff member after working as production manager for Fisher Athletic Equipment for the past 14 years. He is a graduate of Campbell University where he played basketball and later served four years as the men’s assistant basketball coach. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration.

“I want to thank Gary Elmore for his leadership as President for our board, as well as welcome him as our new Production Manager at Cabarrus Vocational Opportunities,” Yelton said. “He has been a hardworking, dedicated leader during this time of change and transformation.”

Board members are all volunteers who give their time, talents and expertise to help Rowan Vocational Opportunities reach its goals and successfully carry out its mission. Board members help the agency set policies, develop long-range plans and prepare budgets, among many other duties.

“I also would like to thank all of our board members for their dedicated service as we face many challenges during this time of the pandemic,” Yelton said.

Rowan Vocational Opportunities has been designated as an essential service by the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

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