The Downtown Raleigh Alliance, or DRA, is trying to help cushion these types of expenses.
The organization has launched a grant program for struggling small-business owners.
“It’s hard to stay in business. I’m working my butt off here. We’re all working our butts off to stay alive,” said Vic’s Italian Restaurant Owner Michael Longo. “It’s do or die.”
Vic’s has been a mainstay in city market, but nothing could have prepared Longo for the emotional rollercoaster he’s been on this last year.
The stay-at-home order was one thing to get through and then came a series of protests outside his front door.
“Especially this is happening on the weekends, too, and that’s our prime time business hours,” Longo said. “We have to shut down and then people are afraid to come downtown when these riots are happening.”
The DRA is offering up to $5,000 to help small business get back on their feet and the money can be used in a couple of ways:
- “Pivot” by adding enhanced service or commerce opportunities for the business to adjust to the effects of the current crises, such as modifying physical space, improving an e-commerce site for online sales, or expanding capacity for delivering goods and services. Some expenditures may include furniture for expanded outdoor dining, materials for construction of takeout windows, accessibility compliance for additional outdoor seating, additional fixtures required for compliance with public health issues, and building of e-commerce platforms, as well as other equipment or tools needed for creative adaptation and pivoting of businesses.
- Repair: Businesses may also apply for funds to help cover repair costs not already covered by insurance or landlord reimbursement. This could include replacement or repair of property inside and/or on the facade of the business and includes payment of deductibles for expenses covered by insurance. (Grants for repair damage are capped at $2,500 per business).
“We’re aiming to really help storefront businesses with costs that help them survive through the pandemic,” said DRA President and CEO Bill King. “From a retailer’s perspective, you’re helping them with more robust e-commerce sites so they’re able to add more online sales in addition to in-person.”
The opportunity for free cash is coming to a close. Monday, September 28, is the last day to submit a grant application.
The DRA and small business owners alike hope the grants lead to a revitalization.
“I hope Raleigh gets back to where it used to be. I feel like this city’s been growing so much, we were doing so well growing and now all these protests are going on, it’s just kind of dropping it,” Longo said.
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