Category: Business

June 3rd, 2020 by newbernpostadmin

The COVID-19 Small Business Loan Program is being launched at noon Friday, June 5. This program is specifically designed for small businesses impacted by the COVID-19 crisis to provide emergency, short-term loans for eligible small businesses located within the New Bern city limits.

Funds may be used for business related expenses including rent, mortgage payments, working capital, or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business.

Loan amounts will be equivalent to two (2) month’s actual monthly rental/mortgage payments of the business, not to exceed a maximum total of $10,000 for an individual small business. Loans will be unsecured with repayment terms of a No Interest, twelve (12) MO nonpayment period followed by a twelve (12) MO equal principal payment period. 

Program applications begin June 5, 2020 and will close eitherwhen funding is exhausted or no later than December 1, 2020. Loans will be reviewed for completeness and proof of need on a first come- first served- basis.

Swiss Bear, Inc. has accumulated over $100,000 for the loan program with funding from the City of New Bern, Craven 100 Alliance, Wells Fargo and local car dealerships.

Swiss Bear Board Chairman, Chris McCutcheon said, “I am thrilled with the work being done with this program. We knew we needed to do something for our small business owners, and this is a great way to help them back on their feet.”

The following is list of eligibility and ineligibility standards.

Eligible Business

• For-profit businesses

• Located within the City of New Bern (jurisdictional boundary)

• Employs at least 1 person

• Legally formed verified by NC Secretary of State

• Operating (generating revenue) on March 10, 2020

• Planning to remain open after the pandemic has ended

• Sales/revenue less than $2,000,000

• Common Beneficial Ownership of 10% or greater of multiple business entities disqualifies the second and any subsequent applications for consideration

Ineligible Businesses

• Any business not meeting the eligibility criteria as outlined above

• Any Uber/Lyft drivers and other individual transportation operations

• Nonprofits

• Auto dealers

• Property Management of landlord-related businesses

• Any business applying for a loan on a physical location where the business does not provide goods or services, but solely leases the location to a tenant

• Franchises, publicly traded companies or subsidiaries of publicly traded companies

• Home-based businesses

• Vice businesses (vape shops, massage parlors, etc.)

Go to either www.downtownnewbern.com or www.newbernchamber.com to initiate the application process.

Loans will be administered through BEFCOR, Business Expansion Funding Corporation, a Certified Development Company and economic development lender in North Carolina since 1982.

Posted in Business, New Bern, Swiss Bear

May 20th, 2020 by newbernpostadmin

In response to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic, the City of New Bern has amended its ordinance to allow for street cafes.

This concept aims to help restaurants citywide in their economic recovery from Coronavirus and allow them more room to serve patrons during the State of North Carolina’s Phase 2 reopening, while also exercising stringent social distancing and capacity guidelines.

Phase 2 is anticipated to begin on Friday, May 22 and last for 4-6 weeks.

The Street Café Permit allows restaurants, upon approval, to serve patrons outside of their facilities. In the downtown area, the City has agreed to close portions of streets on Friday and Saturday nights from 5-11p.m. so that tables and chairs may be set up for outdoor dining. These street closures include:

· 200-300 blocks of Middle Street
· 200 block of Craven Street from Morgan’s Tavern & Grill to Pollock Street
· 300 block of Pollock Street

Additionally, for restaurants with sufficient greenspace or parking lots, the city will suspend zoning enforcement for outdoor dining and parking requirements so that these restaurants may serve outdoors.

Such restaurants need only provide a sketch to the city’s Development Services Department that shows the outdoor dining area to ensure that the dining area provides for emergency service ingress and egress.

There is no fee associated with this request to serve outdoors.

If a restaurant operator is renting their space, the owner of the property should endorse the site plan and sketch of where the outdoor dining area will be located.

The Street Café Permit is only good for the duration of the State’s Phase 2 reopening plan. Restaurants may not exceed their indoor seating capacity when combining the number of outdoor and indoor tables.

For questions, call Development Services at 252-639-7581.

Posted in Business, New Bern, New Bern business and commerce

May 11th, 2020 by newbernpostadmin

Phase 2 of lifted COVID-19 restrictions would allow restaurants with outdoor seating, and the city is being asked to close parts of some downtown streets to make room for street cafe setups.

At its Tuesday, May 12 Zoom meeting, the Board of Aldermen will consider the request to temporarily close portions of Middle Street, Pollock Street, and Craven Street to Vehicular Traffic.

This resolution would permit closures of one side of the 200-300 blocks of Middle Street, 300 block of Pollock Street, and the 200 block of Craven Street from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. accommodating street cafes between May 22, and Aug. 1, 2020.

Lynne Harakal, Executive Director of Swiss Bear, has requested that downtown
restaurants be allowed to close to vehicular traffic a portion of specific streets for the purpose of allowing outdoor seating for restaurants.

This action is aimed at helping the restaurants recover from the closures and reduced revenues associated with COVID-19.

Ordinances will need to be amended to allow for street cafes.

In order to facilitate the request, Chapter 66 of the City’s Code.

Posted in Business, Downtown New Bern, Economy, Health, New Bern

May 9th, 2020 by newbernpostadmin

The New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce is joining the county board of commissioners in asking Governor Roy Cooper to relax COVID-19-related restrictions on Craven County.

In a letter submitted to the New Bern Sun Journal, Chamber of Commerce leaders said the following:

As we are all well-aware, the COVID-19 pandemic is a serious public health crisis. Fortunately, the New Bern area responded strongly and appropriately when asked to do so in mid-late March.

Under direction from our leadership, New Bern residents have diligently shuttered their businesses, closed their schools, and practiced social distancing, all in the name of public health. Everyone accepted that these drastic measures were needed to stem the spread of the virus in our community.

For this, all of us should be thankful in knowing that we are flattening the curve and have hopefully avoided the worst of this pandemic.

Unfortunately, this has also put a great strain on our economic and mental well being. Over the past week, the New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce has solicited feedback from our members regarding the reopening of the area’s economy.

While members are ready to reopen, they also understand that to do so would require that they strictly enforce social distancing and, in some cases, limit the number of customers in their facilities. They understand that they will have to take on additional burdens of cleaning and sanitizing their facilities to avoid a resurgence of this virus. They firmly believe, given the right support, the economy and health of the New Bern area can be properly balanced, and we can move forward.

We applaud the Governor’s phased approach for a gradual reopening based on public health data. However, at the Chamber, we believe that the recovery process should be enacted on a county-by-county or regional basis and not in a one-sized-fits-all model.

Everyone understands that an area like New Bern is a completely different place than a densely populated urban area, such as Raleigh or Charlotte. Rural areas, such as rural eastern North Carolina, have been fortunate to have avoided the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic but are now being forced to suffer a dire economic fate that would last well beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Bern area residents and businesses have been resilient in their efforts to avoid the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officials should now allow us to work just as hard to avoid the economic pitfalls that are certain to come with further shutdowns and restrictions on economic activity.

As we move into the Phases of re-opening, we are asking that Governor Cooper strongly consider this regional approach.

New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce, Lee C. Hodge, 2020 board chair and Kevin M. Roberts, president

Posted in Business, Community issues, Craven County, Economy, Economy and Employment, Health, New Bern

May 7th, 2020 by newbernpostadmin

This week, the Lenoir County Board of Commissioners unanimously agreed to join seven other Governing Boards in Central Eastern North Carolina to request that Gov. Roy Cooper repeal Executive Order 135, known as the “Stay at Home Order.”

The Governing Boards for Beaufort, Carteret, Craven, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico and Wayne counties cited the extreme economic hardship on their local economies as a major reason for the request.

In the letter, the boards of commissioners thank Gov. Cooper for his leadership during this tenuous time in our history and for the governor’s efforts that have helped to save lives and flatten the curve throughout North Carolina with his Executive Orders 121 and 135.

However, the letter goes on to state that Eastern North Carolina can “no longer sit idle as those orders cause vast economic despair and irreparable harm to our small businesses and citizens.”

The letter also references the common struggle this region has faced from recent hurricane events and the impact those natural disasters have already had on these communities.

Additionally, the letter requests that Gov. Cooper consider the plight of Eastern North Carolina counties and to not group the communities in a broad-based, statewide response that may be better suited for the Triangle, Triad and greater Charlotte area of the state.

The request would allow for the ENC counties to have their own decision-making authority during the pandemic.

“We realize COVID-19 is indeed still a very serious threat, but at the same time we realize our business owners and the folks employed by those businesses must have some relief from the shutdown of our local economy,” Lenoir County Board of Commissioners Chair Linda Rouse Sutton said.

Lenore County has been hard-hit not just by the economic impacts of COVID-19. With 97 confirmed cases and four deaths, it has almost twice as many cases as Onslow County, a county with three times the population.

Wayne County, meanwhile, leads the Eastern North Carolina region in total cases, at 685 as of earlier this week, and deaths, with 11 as of earlier this week.

Here’s the text of the full letter:

May 6, 2020

The Honorable Roy Cooper
North Carolina Office of the Governor 20301 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-0301
Dear Governor Cooper,
This letter serves to represent the desire of a group of Counties in Central Eastern North Carolina to reopen our local County economies to avoid any further damaging effects caused by Executive Orders 121, 135 and 138. We appreciate your leadership thus far related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of the decisions you have made, saved lives and helped flatten the curve in North Carolina. Like you, we have had to make difficult decisions that have been challenging and have changed the lives drastically for many of our citizens. These orders have placed an extreme economic hardship on our local County economies. We no longer can sit idle as these orders cause vast economic despair and irreparable harm to our small businesses and citizens.

As a region we ask that you authorize local control of decision making in regards to a phased reopening approach to local County governments. We know this is the best methodology to ensure that local data, metrics and expertise are used in local decision making. We request that you repeal Executive Order 135, better known as the “Stay at Home Order” and the subsequent phased reopening approach and allow local County Governments to individually determine the process and timing of any needed local restrictions.

Eastern North Carolina has faced significant challenges over the last four years as a result of devastating hurricanes that have caused personal property loss and strain on our local economies. Hurricanes Matthew, Florence and Dorian changed fundamentally how our local economies function. Each of our counties has seen small businesses fail, citizens lose their jobs and families struggle to make ends meet. We continue to work in partnership with the State of North Carolina to rebuild our communities after these disasters. To this day each of our counties is still challenged with finding normalcy in our local economies and the massive task of achieving long term recovery. We have worked collaboratively with the State of North Carolina, in a manner where local government input and citizen input was valued and helped develop the direction for which we create a recovery plan. County governments have always been a partner in these discussions and served as the front line for local recovery initiatives. We are asking that the State of North Carolina and County governments follow that very same process as we begin the reopening of local County economies. County Governments have worked in unison with the State of North Carolina just like in times of natural disaster to help flatten the curve and slow the spread of COVID-19. Counties have served on the front line, as our public health departments take on the responsibility of testing, contact tracing and caring for the sick during this pandemic. Our local data collection and ability to interpret such is the key to understanding the timing of when our local economies can begin to reopen in a safe manner. We all recognize that certain restrictions must remain in place to ensure that our local counties remain focused on slowing the transmission of COVID-19, we however feel those restriction decisions should be made at the local county level. Local County Governments would continue to seek consultation with our local hospitals, local health authorities and state health experts to make educated decisions in regards to reopening. As local elected leaders we take these decisions seriously and would use all the tools and information available to protect our citizens and vulnerable populations and at the same time restore the economic health of our Counties.

We come with one voice, to defend our local businesses, industries and the overall economic well-being of our citizens. Our goal is simply to request local authority of decision making and avoid being grouped in a broad based, statewide decision making model. Our rural geography and low population density should not be lumped together with much larger urban counties that face very different challenges. We all agree that the most recent data clearly reflects that the curve in Central Eastern North Carolina has flattened and that our timing for reopening should be much sooner than other parts of North Carolina. Our region of North Carolina is unique and our Counties very diverse, but we all agree that the challenges facing the Triangle, Triad, or Charlotte regions of North Carolina are greatly different than that of Central Eastern North Carolina. By allowing for local authority, you are allowing parts of North Carolina to move forward towards regaining losses in our economies and not hindering our long term recovery efforts not only from COVID-19 but the devastating hurricanes which have affected our region.

We want Eastern North Carolina to prosper again and to do so we need your help. By empowering county governments with decision making authority to make determinations locally to reopen our economies we can bring some normalcy back to our citizens. Additionally we request that you communicate with the local County leaders in our region to further address our concerns.

Jerry Evans
Chairman, Beaufort County Board of Commissioners
Bill Smith
Chairman, Carteret County Board of Commissioners
Thomas Mark
Chairman, Craven County Board of Commissioners
Frank Emory
Chairman, Jones County Board of Commissioners
Linda Rouse Sutton
Chairman, Lenoir County Board of Commissioners
Jack Bright
Chairman, Onslow County Board of Commissioners
Pat Prescott
Chairman, Pamlico County Board of Commissioners
Ray Mayo
Chairman, Wayne County Board of Commissioners

Posted in Business, Community, Craven County, Health, New Bern, State news

May 3rd, 2020 by newbernpostadmin
Pamlico News announces it is temporarily shutting down.

The Pamlico News, the Oriental-based weekly newspaper that has covered local news since 1968, is temporarily shutting down due a severe slowdown in advertising revenue.

Businesses have stopped advertising, sapping the paper of operating funds, the paper said in a front-page article.

The article said the paper would return in three weeks.

Meanwhile, the County Compass continues to be chock full of advertising surrounding its stridently right-wing coverage of the pandemic.

In New Bern, the Sun Journal laid off it’s last sports reporter, Jordan Honeycutt, whose last day was Friday.

Honeycutt has been dividing his time between New Bern and Kinston, one person doing the job that once required required six reporters.

Gannet, which owns the Sun Journal, is the largest newspaper chain in the nation but has been struggling under the weight of COVID-19 impacts.

It has furloughed workers, cut executive pay, and now, on Friday, went through yet another round of layoffs.

The Sun Journal newsroom once housed nearly 20 journalists. Today, it limps along with six, with an editor it shares with several other newspapers.

Laying off Honeycutt is a staff reduction of 12.5 percent.

Newspapers have been struggling for some time, but COVID-19 has been particularly ravaging.

Posted in Business, Economy, Health, New Bern, News Media

April 14th, 2020 by newbernpostadmin

CarolinaEast CRNA’s Bonnie Baker and Stephanie Pinero in a CarolinaEast negative-pressure Operating Room (converted from a regular OR) for use with potential COVID-19 patients.

Southeast Plastics in New Bern, which specializes in engraving and print receptive plastic sheets, made and donated several face shields and an “Intubation Box” to CarolinaEast Medical Center for use on potential COVID-19 patients.

The box is designed to act as a protective shield between the patient and medical staff, thereby hopefully minimizing the risk of disease transmission.

Similar devices have been used in hospitals across the world during endotracheal intubation on patients with COVID-19.

The clear plastic cube covers the patient’s head and has two holes through which the clinician passes his or her hands to perform the procedure. CarolinaEast appreciates Southeast Plastics’ effort in helping us protect our staff and patients.

“Thought this was neat and wanted to share. Hopefully we won’t need to use it but we’re glad to be overly-prepared rather than under,” said Brandy Popp, manager, Public Relations and Outreach at CarolinaEast Health System.

Posted in Business, CarolinaEast, Health, New Bern

April 13th, 2020 by newbernpostadmin

With 35 percent of small business owners saying their business cannot survive more than three months in current conditions, WalletHub released its report on the States with the Most Affected Small Businesses due to Coronavirus, along with accompanying videos.

To identify the states in which businesses are hit hardest by COVID-19, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 12 key metrics. Our data set ranges from the share of small businesses operating in highly affected industries to small-business credit conditions and the state’s small-business friendliness. Below, you can see highlights from WalletHub’s report and a Q&A with WalletHub analysts.

COVID-19 Impact on Small Business in North Carolina (1=Most Affected, 25=Avg.):

  • 21st – Share of Small Businesses Operating in High-Risk Industries
  • 24th – Share of Small-Business Employees Operating in High-Risk Industries Among Total Small-Business Employees
  • 14th – Share of Consumer Expenditures Related to High-Risk Industries
  • 26th – Share of Businesses with E-commerce Sales Activity
  • 28th – Business Vitality
  • 25th – Small-Business Credit Conditions
  • 4th – Total Amount of Small-Business Loans per Small-Business Employee

Source: WalletHub

 

States with the Most Affected Small Businesses due to COVID-19

Overall Rank State Total Score ‘Impact & Access to Resources’ Rank ‘Small-Business Financial Conditions’ Rank ‘Business Environment & Workforce Support Conditions’ Rank
1 Hawaii 69.87 2 22 2
2 Nevada 64.86 3 10 9
3 South Dakota 62.93 5 21 14
4 Mississippi 60.72 10 9 10
5 South Carolina 59.63 7 5 30
6 Louisiana 57.68 34 1 3
7 Arizona 56.96 13 28 7
8 Nebraska 56.77 15 25 8
9 North Carolina 56.67 21 13 11
10 North Dakota 56.52 18 23 12
11 West Virginia 56.15 6 11 38
12 Georgia 55.66 28 8 6
13 Kentucky 55.28 16 26 18
14 Tennessee 54.86 25 4 20
15 Montana 54.27 1 42 49
16 Florida 54.17 22 2 27
17 Idaho 53.62 8 14 47
18 Wyoming 53.45 4 27 50
19 Maine 53.20 19 18 25
20 New Mexico 51.66 9 49 21
21 New Hampshire 51.39 12 51 1
22 Arkansas 49.54 27 6 33
23 Kansas 49.49 36 29 15
24 Washington 48.80 20 24 37
25 Vermont 48.52 17 48 22
26 Virginia 48.45 35 39 5
27 Alabama 48.08 24 35 32
28 Michigan 47.93 44 37 4
29 Delaware 47.89 31 30 26
30 New York 47.46 29 20 34
31 Iowa 47.26 33 31 24
32 Alaska 46.83 23 3 51
33 Indiana 46.50 41 33 16
34 Oklahoma 46.46 26 17 44
35 Utah 46.41 14 44 35
36 California 45.95 43 32 19
37 Rhode Island 45.76 32 43 23
38 Colorado 45.21 11 45 43
39 Texas 44.24 37 12 42
40 Maryland 43.27 38 46 17
41 Missouri 42.33 40 15 39
42 Oregon 42.32 30 38 46
43 New Jersey 41.93 50 7 29
44 Minnesota 41.23 39 40 28
45 Illinois 39.54 46 16 40
46 Connecticut 36.62 47 36 41
47 Wisconsin 36.25 42 41 45
48 Ohio 36.13 48 47 31
49 Pennsylvania 34.63 49 34 48
50 Massachusetts 31.88 45 50 36
51 District of Columbia 29.57 51 19 13

 

 

To view the full report and your state’s rank, go here.

Posted in Business, Economy, Economy and Employment, Health

April 10th, 2020 by newbernpostadmin

N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper took action to the address the spread of COVID-19 by issuing stronger social distancing requirements and speeding up the process to get benefits to people out of work through Executive Order No. 131.

Three key areas are addressed in Executive Order 131.

The first requires retail stores that are still operating to implement new social distancing policies to make shopping safer for customers and employees. 

The second makes earlier COVID-19 guidelines mandatory for nursing facilities, and recommends other long-term care facilities to do the same. 

The third area is unemployment benefits, issuing changes that will speed up certain benefit payments to those who are out of work.

POLICIES FOR SOCIAL DISTANCING IN RETAIL STORES

This Order offers clear requirements that essential businesses must implement in order to safeguard the health of customers and employees. Some of the directives include:

• Setting limits of how many people can be in a store at one time, 5 people per 1,000 square feet of retail space or 20% of fire marshal posted occupancy limits

• Marking 6 feet of distance for areas where people gather like checkout lines

• Requiring specific cleaning measures for retail stores

The Order encourages:

• Implementing hygiene recommendations for employees and customers, like hand sanitizer at the doors and face coverings for workers

• Establishing designated shopping times designated for high-risk groups

• Creating barriers between customers and employees at checkout to lower the risk of required interactions

Creating barriers between customers and employees at checkout to lower the risk of required interactions 

The Order states these requirements will last for 30 days unless extended by further executive action.

LOWERING RISK IN LONG TERM CARE FACILITIES

The Order sets public health and safety requirements for nursing homes during the public health emergency. The Order encourages other long-term care facilities to follow the same guidance. Some of the directives include:

• Canceling communal activities, including group meals

• Taking the temperature of employees and essential personnel when they enter the facility

• Requiring specific personal protective equipment in the facility

• Requiring close monitoring of residents for COVID-19 health indicators like body temperature

The Order states these requirements will last until this order is repealed.

STREAMLINING UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIMS

The Order makes it easier for employers to file a batch of claims, called an attached claim, on behalf of their employees. By temporarily eliminating some of the hurdles for employers, benefits can get in the hands of those who need them faster. 

The Order will extend 60 days beyond the date the state of emergency is lifted to allow employers to get back on their feet.

Additionally, the Department of Employment Services issued information on timing of federal benefits reaching North Carolinians today. 

Posted in Business, Economy, Economy and Employment, Health, New Bern

April 9th, 2020 by newbernpostadmin
Walgreens

April 9, 2020

Dear valued customer,

Over the last several weeks, our nation has faced one of the most challenging times in our history. There is one thing that has not changed: our company’s continued commitment to you and your families. Our pharmacists, store and distribution center teams are working hard to support the health and well-being of the communities we serve throughout the course of the pandemic. I want to share additional steps we are taking to respond to the crisis and keep you and our team members safe and healthy.

This week, we are providing face covers to our store and distribution center employees and continuing the installation of plexiglass shields in our stores to help minimize the spread of COVID-19. These measures are in addition to a number of other actions, such as an increased store cleaning regimen, adjusted store hours, and social distancing signage to protect you, your loved ones and our team members. We are hiring 10,000 temporary workers to ease the strain on our current employees and help those that are in need of work.

We’ve also taken a number of steps to help you receive the medications, digital health services and essentials you need while practicing social distancing including:

    • Expanded on-demand delivery with Postmates for customers nationwide*;
    • Drive thru options for select front-end products and prescriptions;
    • No delivery fees for all eligible prescriptions on next-day delivery;
    • Special shopping hours for seniors on Tuesdays from 8 a.m. – 9 a.m.; and
  • Additional telehealth services on our Walgreens Find Care platform.

You can find more information on all the steps we are taking to address the COVID-19 crisis on our website. We are in this together, and with the safety measures we are implementing for our team members and customers, we can help to reduce the spread of COVID-19 while providing customers and patients with the products, services and support they need.

I want to extend my sincere gratitude to all our team members for the critical work they are doing every day to care for our customers and communities. And, I’d like to personally thank you for your patience and cooperation, and for choosing Walgreens to care for you and your families during these difficult times.

Stay safe,


Richard Ashworth
President, Walgreens

Posted in Business, Health

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