“Haywood County has always been strong and resilient in times of unexpected disasters and crisis,” reads a statement from the Haywood County Chamber of Commerce. “We have experienced disasters before; floods, blizzards, recessions, rock slides, forest fires and more in such a small span of years, and we have always helped one another during those times. Now is one of those times.”
Haywood Chamber President CeCe Hipps said she’d been thinking for weeks on how to support the county’s businesses, especially after people had contacted Hipps asking how and where they could make donations to further her goal.
“Kit [Cramer, president of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce] served on a committee to come up with the One Buncombe fund, and I had some conversations with her,” Hipps said of her counterpart at the Asheville Chamber. Hipps and Cramer have had had a working relationships for several years now, especially in light of Haywood’s economic development partnership with the Asheville Chamber.
The One Buncombe fund is a centralized relief center that can accept donations and provide direct assistance grants to individuals and small businesses; to date, it’s received large donations from Buncombe County ($300,000), the City of Asheville ($100,000) and more than $62,000 from 276 individuals and entities.
“The intent of what Asheville did is the county contributed money, and other organizations contributed as well, like Biltmore Farms,” said Hipps. “I called [Haywood Advancement Foundation’s] Ron Leatherwood weeks ago and said, ‘If I come up with something will I have support?’”
Hipps said she’d had some “deep discussions” with Haywood County Program Administrator David Francis, who went to county government for support.
On April 6, Hipps found out just how much support her idea had — Haywood County commissioners voted unanimously to loan the #HaywoodStrong #HaywoodRecovery fund $100,000. The county also picked up the $10,500 administration fee payable to Mountain Bizworks, the organization that will manage Haywood’s fund.
Mountain BizWorks is a U.S. Treasury-certified nonprofit community development financial institution with a 30-year history of business loan activity, managing loans ranging in size from $1,000 to $250,000.
During the meeting, Francis revealed that the Haywood Advancement Foundation would also chip in, to the tune of $250,000.
“The Chamber’s job will be to simply get the word out,” Hipps said. “All the work’s been done, the logo and the landing page should be up later this week.”
Once everything’s up and running, Haywood County businesses with less than 25 employees that can prove that they were profitable as of 2019 and that they’ve been impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible for loans ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. The loans are meant to serve as bridge funding for businesses that are still waiting on loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The loans will require no payments of any kind for six months but will accrue interest at 4 percent. After the initial six months, that interest is rolled into the loan’s principal and any portion of the principal not refinanced by the SBA or otherwise repaid would convert to a 36-month loan at 5.5 percent interest. There will be no penalty for early repayment.
Borrowers can only use the proceeds of the loans for payroll, accounts payable, fixed debts or other outstanding bills.
The $100,000 contribution by Haywood County will eventually be repaid by borrowers, meaning the only actual outlay by the county is the management fee payable to Mountain BizWorks.
Support the #HaywoodStrong #HaywoodRecovery fund
If you’re able, please consider supporting Haywood County’s small businesses with a tax-deductible donation to the #HaywoodStrong #HaywoodRecovery fund. Make your check payable to the Haywood Advancement Foundation, and mail it to:
Haywood Advancement Foundation
28 Walnut Street, Suite 4
Waynesville, NC 28786