Cook who lost his job during the pandemic becomes an entrepreneur, plans to open Clayton restaurant

One of the bright spots of the pandemic downturn, entrepreneurship is on the rise.

Millions of job losses across the nation in 2020 left many with lots of time and nothing to lose.

So some unemployed people decided to launch a start-up or finally chase a dream of owning a business.

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Jorge Morales is one of the millions who found himself in that position after coronavirus hit.

Morales lost his job as a cook in a restaurant in Clayton. Three months later, Morales launched a catering company specializing in Chilean food, his native country.

Morales saved his earnings from his catering business and is now planning to open a Clayton restaurant that will specialize in breakfast and lunch.

"I've always wanted to do it but I've always been scared to just because it's such a huge risk," Morales said. "But when the pandemic happened it definitely sort of pushed me to want to have my own place."

"I'm in negotiations with three locations in trying to open up breakfast and lunch place because there's a demand, big demand in Clayton for that, and a lot of customers miss me and I miss my customers as well," he added.

In Raleigh, Ashleen Alberti moved to town from NYC after losing her job in the hotel industry in 2020. As an avid golfer, after being laid off, Alberti decided to launch her own golf apparel line for women, Nevis Golf Co.

"I've just always found it very difficult to find flattering, women's golf clothes to be honest," said Alberti. "There's just a lot of brands out there but none that I really felt was flattering to my body. So, it was always in the back of my head and then I just decided I have all this time I kind of want to go for it!"

Morales and Alberti aren't alone in their new ventures.

Despite the pandemic, in North Carolina, new business creation accelerated substantially in 2020 with a record number of new filings. According to the N.C. Dept. of the Secretary of State, in 2020 nearly 127,000 were filed-27,000 more than the previous year.

So far in 2020, new business creations have surpassed where they stood a year ago and are on pace to exceed a record 140,000 new business filings according to the state.

Morales, after a dark year in 2020, is excited and looking ahead to what the future will bring in his new business venture.

"Everything that happened just kind of pushed me to do my own thing," Morales said.
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