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.
• 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
• Any business not meeting the eligibility criteria as outlined above
• Any Uber/Lyft drivers and other individual transportation operations
• 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
Swiss Bear Inc. received a $10,000 grant for innovative revitalization efforts to address impacts of COVID-19. Eight accredited Main Street America Programs were selected to receive this grant from hundreds of applicants across the country.
“These winning ideas represent the ingenuity, resiliency, and entrepreneurial thinking that have made Main Street a powerful tool for revitalization and will be vital to economic recovery moving forward,” said Main Street America’s President and CEO Patrice Frey. “These programs have not only actively positioned their communities and programs for success, but they have also offered model approaches that can be adopted by other Main Streets responding to the impact of COVID-19 across the country.”
The Bear Towne Marketplace will provide a digital one-stop shopping platform that will help Downtown New Bern retailers collectively reach customers during COVID-19 recovery and well into the future. The marketplace will provide the convenience of shopping multiple stores with a single checkout transaction and a centralized pickup location.
This convenience will help customers when they are unable to visit physical locations and allows retailers to sell inventory safely. It will also give merchants without an e-commerce site an opportunity to sell goods, while allowing merchants with existing platforms an opportunity to expand their online presence. The website will launch in the beginning of November in time for the holiday season.
Swiss Bear Executive Director Lynne Harakal said, “This marketplace is not intended to replace downtown brick-and-mortar shopping, instead it is meant to enhance that experience while helping businesses survive when physical location shopping is not possible or practical.” She also notes that in the event of the COVID-19 outbreak not improving over the summer, a more aggressive timeline for launching the marketplace can be implemented.
This project is supported by a grant from the Grills Fund for Main Street Revitalization, administered by the National Main Street Center, Inc. and funded by Joe and Marge Grills.
Other recipients were:
Harrisonburg, Va., Bricks & Clicks
Gallup, N.M., Coal Avenue Commons Pop-Up Entrepreneur Resource Center
Laurens, S.C., Technology Audit and Small Business GTraining
Downtown restaurants are providing curbside service following emergency orders to shut down dining rooms because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Here, Cashi Miller of Beer Army, left, delivers an order to Marilu Randolph. Photo provided by Swiss Bear Inc.
While some Downtown New Bern restaurants and shops have opted to shut down temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most are still open for business with adjusted hours and a more limited menu to keep it simple for customers.
DSwiss Bear, Inc. is supplementing the shutdown of downtown restaurant dining rooms and bars.
The organization’s website has been transformed into a gift card purchasing directory and most establishments have created curbside and delivery options for customers.
Downtown business owners jumped into action before the call from Governor Cooper was made Tuesday to shut down dining rooms by holding an emergency downtown meeting on Tuesday afternoon.
They began a gift card initiative and discussed options for takeout, including what to do about parking in the event dining in restaurants was temporarily halted.
Swiss Bear Executive Director Lynne Harakal said, “Our downtown community made these preparations in advance to help sustain the downtown business community. Many businesses are still recovering behind the scenes from Hurricane Florence and that is why it is so important to continue buying local.”
The City of New Bern staff worked on Wednesday evening to provide allotted parking spaces for curbside pickup for each business providing the option.
Ward 1 Alderman and local businessowner Sabrina Bengel said, “I’m proud of how quickly our team responded and got this in motion. We will continue to work together and do whatever we can to help our community through this situation.”
Businesses have been grouped together by location and have been given 1-3 spaces for their curbside service. Downtown parking enforcement will continue normal operations, but the spaces for curbside service will be reserved for the foreseeable future.
Swiss Bear is emphasizing that the community is still able to support downtown businesses even if they don’t feel comfortable going out in public by using the gift card program.
Customers can also continue to help their favorite local businesses by shopping online, tipping well, and sharing their posts on social media.
Swiss Bear, Inc. announced that the state of North Carolina has selected New Bern as the host of the 40th Annual NC Main Street Conference at the New Bern Riverfront Convention Center and throughout downtown from March 10-12.
The conference stems from The Main Street Program, which is a proven and successful economic development method that helps renew interest, energy and prosperity in the central business districts of small and mid-sized communities across the state.
The conference itself will explore the impact of the program over the past forty years and will look to the future for forthcoming areas of engagement. The three-day event will consist of keynote speakers, break out session seminars, guided tours around town and a chance for attendees to experience what historic Downtown New Bern has to offer on their own.
Swiss Bear Executive Director Lynne Harakal said, “This is a powerful way to communicate to the rest of the state how Downtown New Bern has recovered since Hurricane Florence and to encourage future visitation to our area. We have bounced back stronger than ever and people are taking notice.”
The event is the largest statewide downtown revitalization conference in the country, and it brings together all individuals and parties interested in economic growth and success for downtown communities. Attendees include over 700 downtown economic development professionals, elected officials and local government staff along with volunteers, business and property owners, consultants, vendors and sponsors that are all involved in the betterment of downtown districts and rural communities across the state.
Swiss Bear, Inc. (SBI) facilitates development of the greater downtown area through leadership and planning that empowers community stakeholders to promote and enhance New Bern’s unique cultural and natural resources. SBI is a 501 (c)3 entity that is led by a Board of Directors composed of volunteers representing specific stakeholders in greater downtown.