Donations from Buncombe County, area organizations and businesses, and community members are set to have a significant impact on small businesses. The One Buncombe Fund is awarding $475,000 in grants to 116 area businesses as part of a COVID-19 relief effort. This money will directly assist 406 living-wage jobs by supporting the retention of 253 employees and rehiring of 153 workers. Of those receiving funding, 31% have not had any government assistance since the beginning of the pandemic, and for half it’s only their second time receiving COVID-related assistance. A key objective for the program was to provide funding for those that need it most, and specifically those that were not eligible for other relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). “This will help us and our staff immensely as we move forward and begin to rebuild after this past year,” exclaims Natasha Poor with Asheville-based music venue 27 Club. “It warms our hearts to receive encouragement and support from our local community, and we promise to extend this ourselves in every way we possibly can.”
The goal of One Buncombe is to help individuals impacted by COVID-19 by supporting small businesses’ efforts to reopen, rehire, and retain employees. The fund was also intentional about awarding grants to businesses owned by women and people of color with an additional emphasis on sole proprietorships. The fund met its goals as evidenced in the breakdown of grant recipients below:
- 35% of grants are for sole-proprietor businesses.
- 64% of grants are to women-owned enterprises.
- 36% of grants are to businesses owned by people of color.
- 20% of grants are to businesses owned by women of color, a demographic data shows has been the most impacted by COVID-19.
- 80% of grants are for historically underutilized businesses which includes both women-owned and minority-owned enterprises.
Small businesses awarded grants will receive up to $5,000 and will have the money by the end of the month. “This grant gives me some hope to keep going, some hope that my business will survive,” says Jazmin Whitmore with More to Love Consignment.
We know finances have been tight for everyone this past year, so to be able to meet our goal of donating $475,000 is amazing. Buncombe County gives a heartfelt thanks to everyone who rallied around this effort to help our small business community. “The pandemic has been challenging, and we know our small business community has struggled to balance public health and their day-to-day operations,” says Chairman Newman on behalf of the Board of Commissioners. “The One Buncombe Fund is just one way our community came together to support our local businesses, especially those most impacted like sole proprietors and businesses owned by people of color.”
The County would also like to recognize Mountain BizWorks for its outstanding help in administering this program. Below is a list of those who donated $10,000 or more, and for a list of everyone who donated, please visit OneBuncombe.org. For a list of One Buncombe Fund award recipients, please see the attached PDF.
One Buncombe Fund top donors:
Ada Lea Birnie
Bank of America
Biltmore Lake Charitable Fund
Buncombe County Government
Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority
City of Asheville
Dogwood Health Trust
Jurgen and Leslie Dierks
Mr. and Mrs. Robert Herlin
Ramble Charitable Fund
Rick and Bridget Eckerd
Rotary Club of NC
Wicked Weed Brewing