Millions in grants available to Fayetteville businesses, but only a handful have applied so far

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Tuesday, July 26, 2022
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Fayetteville is giving away millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief money through a grant program for struggling small businesses.

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Fayetteville is giving away millions of dollars in COVID-19 relief money through a grant program for struggling small businesses. Officials say not many businesses have been applying, and that they are worried some of the money won't get to businesses in need.

The effort is called the Small Business Relief Grant Program. The city launched it on July 5 and is giving away a total of $3 million to local businesses. The program is being funded by the American Rescue Plan.

"Our small businesses in the area, they fuel our economy," said Derrick McArthur, an economic development manager for the city. "By giving and helping those businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19, this is a way to get them back working and our economy thriving."

However the city said there were less than 20 applicants within the first 10 days of the launch. That cohort of applicants accounted for only about $800,000 of the grants. McArthur and his team say they're worried not enough people know about the effort.

As of Tuesday, the applicant pool has risen to 46.

Stephen Haire, the CEO of Carolina Specialties, was the first to receive the grant money.

His ad company recently moved to a once vacant building on Ramsey Street from their prior location on Gillespie Street due to ongoing flooding issues. Complications from the pandemic delayed the move by an extra five months and inflated costs by about 40 percent.

"You're thinking you're going to spend $90,000, and then all of a sudden, you're at $130,000 to $140,000," Haire said. Plus, the building needed a new roof.

"A roof two years ago, it would have been about $25,000. The lowest estimate we got, I think, was $54,000," Haire said.

That's where the city stepped in, accepting Carolina Specialties' application to fund its new roof. Haire encourages other business owners to apply so they can save their companies using the city's COVID funds like he did.