Center offers technical assistance and connects small businesses to capital during the pandemic
Asheville – The Western Women’s Business Center (WWBC), a program of Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF), a statewide nonprofit Community Development Financial Institution and lender, is helping small businesses obtain access to capital and technical assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
CSBDF’s research staff recently compiled a report (and 2 page-brief) on the need for small business assistance in North Carolina. Based on that analysis, we project a total of 111,477 smaller businesses employing 1-19 and 20,915 medium-sized businesses employing 20-99 are at high risk for closure and need assistance.
“These are indeed sobering times for all of us. The health of individuals is of course of paramount importance. But the health of small businesses has a direct link to the health of society. The resilience of small businesses relates directly to the resiliency and the return to normal of society as a whole. Small businesses create and retain jobs, they help create great and vibrant places where people can gather when we are ready to do that and they are constant contributors to local, state, and federal tax,” said Kevin Dick, President & CEO of CSBDF.
Since opening its doors in July 2014, the WWBC has been providing a full range of services that meet the needs of women entrepreneurs facing challenges in accessing capital and resources to establish a successful business. During the pandemic, the WWBC’s parent organization, CSBDF, has been working with small businesses in need as well as is working with the WWBC to support small businesses with free virtual technical assistance.
Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours, a unique tour company in Asheville, opened in July 2018 with a loan from CSBDF and coaching and technical assistance from the WWBC. Due to COVID-19, Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours is currently dealing with major tour cancellations. Their employees’ hours are cut to zero for the foreseeable future. Since travel bans are in place and rooftop bars are closed, Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours is closed temporarily and they are refunding money for tours already into May.
To help during this crisis, CSBDF has offered Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours loan payment deferral and interest-only payments during the next few months and provided them with technical assistance through the WWBC.
“Knowing that your lender is there for you during an economic disaster like this global pandemic is a vital part of recovery for my small business. The Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting travel restrictions have completely shut down my tour company since mid-March 2020. The contact from the WWBC from the beginning of this pandemic crisis offering assistance with resources has been invaluable to me. And with CSBDF offering loan modifications for me during these current uncertain times, it has helped me to better position my company coming out of this crisis,” said Kaye Bentley, owner of Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours.
On a positive note, Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours was awarded the Entrepreneur of the Year award by CSBDF’s Small Business Week Awards Luncheon (scheduled for May 4th but postponed until next year due to the pandemic). Asheville Rooftop Bar Tours has also received recognition by the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce as the Small Business of the Month of May. This goes to show how small businesses can be resilient during this difficult time, but most importantly, how we should all stand together to help them.
“Western North Carolina is one of the most beautiful places I have lived. It is also one of the most rapidly growing economic engines moving across rural, urban, and metro region allowing for the spirit of entrepreneurism to continually evolve. As a program of CSBDF, the WWBC is committed to helping small businesses during this time of crisis,” said Sharon Oxendine, WWBC Director. “Just like many other WBCs funded by the Small Business Administration, we are currently working remotely, answering calls from our living rooms, and working hard to be there for entrepreneurs. We are persistent with a mission to aid small businesses during this time and help them recover.”
About Western Women’s Business Center
The mission of the Western Women’s Business Center (WWBC) is to provide technical assistance, capital and programs that reduce the barriers and serve as a catalyst to the success of women entrepreneurs in Western North Carolina. For more information, visit www.wwbcnc.org.
About Carolina Small Business Development Fund
Carolina Small Business Development Fund fosters economic development in underserved communities through access to capital, business services, and policy research. Since 2010, the nonprofit CDFI has invested more than $63.7 million through 769 loans to small businesses across North Carolina helping to create or retain more than 2,602 jobs. For more information, visit www.carolinasmallbusiness.org.