PRESS RELEASE: Buncombe County TDA Joins Effort to Bring Relief to Workers and Owners of Local Small Businesses

[March 27, 2020] The Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority has announced a contribution of $50,000 to One Buncombe, the community fund designed to help individuals and locally owned small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The funding is made available through revenue earned from advertising on the ExploreAsheville.com website. The BCTDA created this separate source of funding in 2016 and has dedicated its earned income primarily to providing grants and sponsorships to community festivals and cultural events.

“As chair of the committee spearheading One Buncombe, I want to thank the Buncombe County TDA for their support of this important community resource,” said Kit Cramer, president and CEO of the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.

“The collective impact of donations at all levels by local, state, and federal entities, business and industry, nonprofits, grant-makers, and individuals will bring relief to our neighbors in need who have experienced devastating impacts from COVID-19, particularly the owners of small businesses and their employees. These are the heart and spirit of our vibrant community.”

One Buncombe will be administered by the Buncombe County Service Foundation, with grants distributed by a seven-member board of directors.

With this donation, the Festivals & Cultural Events Support Fund and all earned revenue will be depleted until such time that area attractions, lodging, restaurants, and other entities resume advertising on ExploreAsheville.com. Explore Asheville has suspended billing to tourism partner advertisers during the crisis.

Occupancy tax revenues administered by the BCTDA are dedicated by state law for the purpose of attracting overnight visitors to Buncombe County, thereby expanding the customer base for local businesses, providing jobs, and generating tax revenue. As the economy shuts down to “flatten the curve” and reduce the spread of the coronavirus, occupancy tax collections are also disrupted. Funding already collected from visitors by lodging properties will be used, as mandated, to fuel Asheville’s economic recovery when the COVID-19 crisis subsides.

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CONTACT:  Kathi M. Petersen
Director of Public Information & Community Engagement
Explore Asheville Convention & Visitors Bureau
kpetersen@ExploreAsheville.com


Buncombe County Press Release on this Initiative:

One Buncombe Fund Offers Relief for Individuals, Businesses Affected by COVID-19

Buncombe County is strong and resilient. When times are hard, we look out for those with less and pool our resources to make sure our neighbors are getting by. Even though we are apart, we can come together as One Buncombe. And that’s why Buncombe County, the City of Asheville, the Town of Montreat, members of the Asheville-area Chamber of Commerce, Mountain BizWorks, the Land of Sky Regional Council, and others have launched the One Buncombe Fund (onebuncombe.org), a centralized COVID-19 donation and relief center.

The One Buncombe Fund addresses those affected by the COVID-19 crisis by providing basic needs for unemployed individuals and bridge funding for small businesses. We need you to join us and our community partners to distribute meaningful and immediate relief to our neighbors. Please visit onebuncombe.org to make a donation.

If you or your business needs assistance, we encourage you to apply immediately (see below for details).

Assistance to individuals who have lost employment due to COVID-19

Individuals who have lost employment due to COVID-19 are eligible for direct assistance grants. Funds can be used for life-essential needs caused by the COVID-19 public health crisis such as electric bills, deposits, fuel oil, kerosene, natural gas, propane, wood, mortgages, overnight lodging, etc. Funds will be paid to the service provider, not directly to individuals. Assistance will be provided through the Buncombe County Department of Health and Human Services. County social workers will screen applicants to ensure all other potential sources are leveraged, including public assistance programs (e.g., unemployment insurance) and the services of our community partners. Social workers will also make referrals to Health and Human Services partners to assist the applicant to help alleviate their immediate crisis.

If you have questions or want to apply, please contact COVID-GA@buncombecounty.org or call (828) 250-5500.

Assistance for locally owned, small businesses affected by COVID-19

Small businesses affected by COVID-19 will be eligible for loans up to $10,000. During the initial six-month period, there will be no payments of any kind. Interest will accrue at 4% during the six-month period, but will not be paid and rolls up into the loan at the end of the six-month period. Loans will be designed to provide low-cost bridge funding to help businesses stay open and limit job losses until they qualify for longer term disaster funding from SBA or others. At this time, small businesses are defined as having fewer than 50 employees. Loan underwriting and administration will be provided by Mountain BizWorks, a nonprofit community development financial institution. Eligible uses include payroll, accounts payable, fixed debts, or other bills the business is unable to pay due to effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

Business Eligibility:

  • Fewer than 50 full- and part-time employees
  • Must have a physical location and be principally based in Buncombe County
  • Demonstrated loss of revenue of 25% or more due to COVID-19
  • Agree to provide impact data

For full details and to apply online visit mountainbizworks.org/one-buncombe-fund/. If you have questions, please contact Jeremiah Robinson at (828) 253-2834 ext. 14.

The Buncombe County Service Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, will serve as fiduciary for all One Buncombe Fund donations. Donations are considered tax deductible, but please consult a tax professional for any specific guidance.

Please donate here: onebuncombe.org

To donate by check, make it payable to “Buncombe County Service Foundation and mail to:
Buncombe County Service Foundation
200 College St., Suite 300
Asheville, NC 28801
*Please make sure to note that funds are for “One Buncombe Fund.”

We thank you in advance for donating. These are unprecedented times, and they call for equal measures. We know this is a big ask, but it’s not from us; it’s from our community’s most vulnerable, our neighbors, friends, and the future generation.

Members of the public who have questions about donating, please contact Angelyn Johnson at Angelyn.Johnson@buncombecounty.org.

For individuals in need, please contact COVID-GA@buncombecounty.org.

For questions about business loans, please contact Jeremiah Robinson at (828) 253-2834 ext. 14.

Interested in becoming a matching funds partner? Contact Sybil Tate at Sybil.tate@buncombecounty.org.

We want to thank our initial partners for supporting the One Buncombe Fund.

One Buncombe Fund Partners
Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce
Buncombe County
City of Asheville
Land of Sky Regional Council
Mountain BizWorks
Town of Montreat
Biltmore Lake Charitable Fund
Ramble Charitable Fund
Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority