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Local

New Hanover County has given out $2.3 million in ARPA funds to local businesses

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Camille Mojica
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WHQR
Old Books on Front was one of the businesses that received a lifeline from federal funds distributed by the county.

This year, New Hanover County has given about $45 million in American Rescue Plan Act money from the federal government. Shortly after receiving this money, the county rolled out a plan explaining where the money would go — second on the list was business and employment assistance.

New Hanover County set aside $2.3 million from its ARPA funds for local business grants to be given out as Covid relief money.

A total of 106 businesses received money from the county, ranging from $10,000 to $50,000. Awards were based on a lengthy list of criteria:

  • Business is independent, locally owned, and physically located in New Hanover County.
  • Businesses need to have been in operation for six months prior to March 2020.
  • One or more business owners is a New Hanover County resident.
  • The business has more than one employee (including full-time, part-time, and seasonal employees).
  • Businesses must have a valid Tax ID.
  • The business has experienced layoffs, furloughs, expenditures, or loss of revenue due to COVID-19.
  • Business or registered agent does not have a pending bankruptcy.
  • Business is in good tax standing with all Federal, State, and local governments or has a payment plan in place prior to March 10, 2020, when Governor Roy Cooper declared a statewide state of emergency.
  • Business is not a financial institution, non-profit, or home-based business.
  • Business is not disbarred or suspended from working in North Carolina.

The business grants that were administered with ARPA funds were targeted to hospitality, retail, service, and childcare uses. The purpose was to provide one-time grants to local businesses negatively impacted by COVID-19 — to hire or re-hire employees or to cover expenditures related to the business complying with State and Local covid orders. The county, along with the City of Wilmington, partnered with the Chamber of Commerce to administer this program.

According to the county, of the 192 grant awardees between the city and county, 136 are businesses owned by minorities, women, or veterans.

Gwenyfar Rohler, managing partner of Old Books on Front Street, received one of those grants — and said it helped her weather the pandemic. The money went to masks, bleach and other cleaning supplies but the biggest portion went to payroll.

“...for the small business payroll is the single biggest expense that we have in a given month. And so being able to bring back the staff who are still living here, a number of our staff from before COVID moved, has been a godsend that I would not have been able to afford to do otherwise this fall," she said.