Triangle business owners look forward to Vice President Kamala Harris' visit to Raleigh

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Monday, January 30, 2023
VP visit comes as local small businesses face more challenges
Food prices are up and there are shortages on some items in the new year.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Vice President Kamala Harris is making a stop in the Triangle.

Kyrone Nebolisa is the owner of Kwench Juice Cafe in Apex. He's preparing to celebrate his first year of business in about two weeks. It's a feat he doesn't take lightly.

"We've been open for a year and we want to celebrate with everyone who helped support us through our first year," said Nebolisa. "Of course, as a small business owner, the first year you have some challenges, and being able to overcome that is definitely a success."

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 1 in 5 U.S. businesses fail within the first year. Nebolisa beat those odds but shared some of the obstacles he along with other small business owners faced during their first year in business.

"It's marketing. It's HR. It's payroll. How to deal with employees? How to interact with your customers and keep them coming back. It's a bunch of things you just don't know," he said. "I figured it out over time through me learning from failing and help from people in the community, but it would be nice if there was maybe a program through the town or government that could walk you through those steps."

It's steps Nebolisa hopes Vice President Kamala Harris touches on Monday during her visit to the Duke Energy Center in Raleigh. She is expected to highlight the Biden-Harris administration's commitment to small businesses.

Harris was initially supposed to be in Durham on Friday to talk about the administration's investments in small businesses, but because of the mass shootings in California Harris' trip was postponed.

"There are tons of initiatives that have come out of the federal government over the last three years," said Brandi Neloms, the founder and CEO of Capital B Solutions, which specializes in business brand building.

She said one of the top initiatives has been the capital that's been provided to small businesses, which she describes as invaluable.

"When I'm thinking at a very high level what small businesses need to succeed, I'm planning on three things: They need customers. They need champions. So, mentors, advocates, people who can help them get to where they're going. And the third is that they need capital. So, they need to understand the type of capital that they need, and they need to find out where to get it and the government has been a good source of that," said Neloms.

She said funding is critical during this economic climate as business owners are navigating inflation.

"It is causing the cost of doing business for small business owners to increase whether they are offering a product or service. They're declining customers based on what consumers spending and demand is there, the supply chain issues, increased cost of materials and equipment. And it's just really hard to maintain staff, lots of labor shortages and turnover happening right now, which leads to an overall decrease in declining revenue," Neloms said.

Neloms and Nebolisa both are anticipating the VP's visit in hopes it comes with a lifeline for small business owners.

"Hopefully, something comes out of the VP's visit so that small business owners can thrive and not have to shut their doors down," said Neoblisa.

During her last Triangle trip, Harris highlighted the administration's commitment to lowering costs through the Inflation Reduction Act.

She also spoke about lower health care costs for seniors.