With strict measures in place aimed at slowing the spread of the Coronavirus, local businesses such as restaurants, retail shops, salons and gyms are facing uncertain times as they have been forced to close their doors or be limited to carry out and delivery service.
“It’s having a negative effect on our local businesses. But at the same time I agree with what the governor is doing and his steps to try and keep everybody safe. If everybody will stay home this thing will end sooner rather than later,” said Colby Slusher, owns several properties in town that he rents and leases to these small businesses.
“We’re working with the businesses that we lease to. During times like this — and these are unprecedented times — everybody has got to remember that everybody is hurting right now,” he said. “We’re doing everything necessary to see that what is here stays here and after this is over we can move forward.”
Main Street Pineville executive director Jacob Roan says there is help available through his office for those that need it.
“This is unchartered territory for all of us,” he said. “The city has worked as hard as we can to interpret the governor’s orders and relay those back to the business owners so that we can assure they are taking every step necessary to protect themselves and their customers.”
Last week Main Street focused on helping Pineville’s restaurants. They shared all of their phone numbers and blocked off parking spots for customers to use as they pick up orders.
“The community support around the restaurants by ordering delivery has been tremendous. All of the restaurant owners have been happy with the efforts the community has made,” he said.
The City and Main Street went a step further by offering COVID-19 Relief Grants. Those grants allow any restaurant in Pineville that is up to date on all city taxes and is a member of Main Street Pineville to receive $1,000.
“Most of the funding is coming out of the restaurant tax account so it’s money they’ve already paid. It can be used for rent, payroll, utility bills, general operation costs to keep the doors open.”
According to Roan, those who applied for the grants are reporting a loss of 50-percent of their business over the past week with one restaurant reporting an 80-percent loss.
He added that every privately owned business in town is eligible for an SBA loan at 3.75 percent interest that can be paid back over 30 years. Roan is currently going through training on the loans which will be finished on Thursday.
“I urge every business to reach out to me if they have questions. These loans can be used for operation expenses like rent, utilities and payroll,” Roan said. “If you apply for this it does not mean you have to draw it down. You can get approved and know that you would have that source in case this goes on longer than we anticipate.”
Roan said Main Street would be turning it’s focus this week to helping the small retail businesses in town.
“My understanding is that every business can operate but most have to close to in-person sales. Any boutique, florist or retail shop in town can still be open and post their items on-line,” he said.
He added that the federal stimulus package if it is passed will include checks for just about everyone and he stressed the importance of people using those checks at local businesses.
“I cannot stress enough how important it is for people to use that money locally. That’s the point of it. I hope people don’t use it to go to Amazon to by a TV that they don’t need,” Roan said.
On a personal note, Roan said he’s never changed his mind on an issue this serious as far as the shut down.
“The past 10 days have been the weirdest 10 days since I’ve been in this position,” he said. “I was in Nashville two weeks ago for the SEC Tournament and I was devastated when I was told we wouldn’t be able to go into the arena. Then I got home and businesses started to close and it was just like the whole world was shutting down.
“We’re all in it together and I have faith in our state and federal leaders to see us through this. This is something that we can bounce back from.”