In January 2021, the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority approved an allocation of $40,000 to the One Buncombe Fund, adding to the $50,000 donated last spring using revenue earned from advertising on ExploreAsheville.com. The goal of One Buncombe is to help individuals impacted by COVID-19 by supporting small businesses’ efforts to reopen, rehire, and retain employees.
With donations from other area organizations, businesses, governmental entities, and community members, the One Buncombe Fund has awarded $475,000 in grants to 116 area businesses as part of a COVID-19 relief effort.
This money will directly assist 406 living-wage jobs by supporting the retention of 253 employees and rehiring of 153 workers. Of those receiving funding, 31% have not had any government assistance since the beginning of the pandemic, and for half it’s only their second time receiving COVID-related assistance. A key objective for the program was to provide funding for those that need it most, and specifically those that were not eligible for other relief programs like the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).
The fund was intentional about awarding grants to businesses owned by women and people of color with an additional emphasis on sole proprietorships. The fund met its goals as evidenced in the breakdown of grant recipients below:
- 35% of grants are for sole-proprietor businesses.
- 64% of grants are to women-owned enterprises.
- 36% of grants are to businesses owned by people of color.
- 20% of grants are to businesses owned by women of color, a demographic data shows has been the most impacted by COVID-19.
- 80% of grants are for historically underutilized businesses which includes both women-owned and minority-owned enterprises.