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Economic resilience in a time of dire need

Michael and Ellen Winner

When it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic would exact an outsized economic toll on North Carolina’s small businesses, the NC Rural Center knew that it was imperative to take immediate action. The Center leaned on its 30-year history of small-business lending and development and its connections to like-missioned community partners to develop a scalable and easily deployed loan program that entrepreneurs could lean on for support. Thus, NC Rapid Recovery launched in May 2020.

NC Rapid Recovery was the product of the largest collaborative effort in the NC Rural Center’s history, bringing together the Golden LEAF Foundation, eight nonprofit lenders and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and a cadre of public, private, and nonprofit financial supporters, to provide emergency loans to small-businesses dealing with the economic fallout of COVID-19.

The loan program swiftly delivered more than $133,400,000 in capital to entrepreneurs across the state. Of the loans disbursed through the program, 98 percent were distributed to businesses with fewer than 50 employees, and 65 percent were distributed to Historically Underutilized Business borrowers, which includes women- and/or minority-owned businesses.

But behind each borrower, each business, was an individual, a family, a community.

Dr. Millicent Brown

Like Dr. Millicent Brown, one of the only podiatrists to serve Vance and Granville counties, who sought a Rapid Recovery loan to help her medical practice keep operating during an unknown financial future while also ensuring that her patients were able to safely access care.

Amy Lyda

Like Amy Lyda, owner of Black Mountain Bistro, who sought a Rapid Recovery loan so her restaurant and catering business could withstand the drop in local tourism and catered events that kept the doors open.

And like Michael and Ellen Winner, owner of Barkwell’s, a pet-friendly vacation retreat, who sought a Rapid Recovery loan to help them to both weather the early stages of the pandemic when their business was closed and not generating income, and to bring back staff and implement more stringent health and safety measures.

Shannon McGaughey

“The loan arrived like lightning. Getting the support lifted a huge weight off our shoulders,” says Shannon McGaughey, co-owner of the Asheville-based restaurant, Vivian. “Knowing that we have the support of the community via the funding is a huge vote of confidence for who we are as a business. It gave us that boost to say ‘we do need to fight for this, we do need to carry on.'”

Learn more about how NC Rapid Recovery supported North Carolina’s entrepreneurs and small-business owners here.