Wake Tech fund helping small businesses as NC’s Phase 1 of reopening gets underway

Wake County News

HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C. (WNCN) – The COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home order have left small business owners scrambling to survive and some of the hardest hit have been mom-and-pop shops.

The story is holding true for one retailer in downtown Holly Springs. Gerry and Beth Martinez de Andino own Our Moments in Time on Main Street and half of their store has been closed due to the statewide stay-at-home order that’s been in place for a month-and-a-half.

“We went from having a bustling store to basically almost being shut down,” said Gerry
Martinez de Andino.

Now the only thing that’s brewing in the store is coffee. The other side of the store is a coffee shop, which has been allowed to stay open.

“The only place where we can have someone come in – and only three at a time – is the coffee shop to do takeout and the reason is because we have to have six feet of separation,” said Gerry.

North Carolina is now easing into Phase One of the state’s reopening plan this evening, which would allow retail shops like Our Moments in Time to reopen at 50-percent capacity. But concerns still linger for the entrepreneurs.

“People are not coming,” said Beth Martinez de Andino. “Whether that’s because they’re afraid to leave their home or come into a public space.”

The couple plans to open the retail and coffee shop for full-service hours on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The reopening process could be slow and leave funds stretched. A grant from Wake Tech is easing some of the strain.

“There were some fears over the immediate needs of small businesses,” said Katie Gailes. She is Wake Tech’s director of entrepreneurship initiative.

Wake Tech established a Rally Fund and disbursed about $160,000 in grants to support 70 small businesses. The fund was inspired by the struggles of small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. Wells Fargo, the City of Raleigh, and Wake Tech all contributed to the fund.

“While we knew we could not take this amount of money and solve someone’s total financial problems, but we thought we could put a finger in the hole in the dike until some of the other programs came through,” Gailes said.

The grants range from $500 to $3,000. Grant recipients were a part of the LaunchWakeCounty movement and Wake Tech’s Small Business Center.

“Our expenses haven’t gone away and we still need to be here for our community. So this helps a lot,” said Gerry.

The Wake Tech Foundation is hoping that more organizations will step up to support. If you’re interested in contributing to the Rally Fund for Small Businesses click here to learn more.

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