For Immediate Release: July 28, 2020
Contact: Clark E. Lovelace, Executive Director Brevard/Transylvania Chamber / Transylvania County Tourism (828) 883-3700 [email protected]
– In just three months since the inception of this new initiative, the Transylvania Tomorrow Small Business Emergency Relief Fund raised and distributed $166,500 to 93 businesses throughout Transylvania County. Restaurants, art galleries, retail shops, hair salons, outfitters, daycares, health and wellness, accommodations, business services and more were awarded grants of up to $3,000 to provide relief from the impact of COVID-19 on their operations.
“Transylvania Tomorrow was able to swiftly respond to the needs of our small businesses who are the heartbeat of our community,” stated Heart of Brevard Executive Director Nicole Bentley. “These grants provided critical financial resources and a sense of sustainability to our local businesses at a time of unprecedented uncertainty.”
Transylvania Tomorrow is one of the initiatives created by the Transylvania Business Support Task Force, a collaboration between the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce (Chamber), Heart of Brevard (HOB), Transylvania Economic Alliance (TEA), Transylvania County Tourism (TCT), and Blue Ridge Community College Small Business Center (BRCC-SBC). This group formed soon after the impact of COVID-19 began to be felt locally as an effort to provide support to the business community, which drives the local economy. In addition to the Transylvania Tomorrow program, the task force provided comprehensive information, printed resources, impact surveys, town hall meetings, and industry specific gatherings.
“One of the things that makes Transylvania County so special is that we’re the type of community that has a lot of people working together to make a difference,” shares Chamber and TCT Executive Director
Clark Lovelace. “That’s what we have in this case. Five organizations came together to get this initiative started, and then other organizations, businesses, local government, year-round citizens, part-time residents, and visitors stepped up with contributions to really make it happen.”
The relief fund is made possible through a partnership with the Community Focus Foundation of Transylvania County, a 501(c)(3) that serves as a vehicle for a wide-range of community development needs. The foundation was created in 2001 and has supported dozens of important initiatives since then.
“Transylvania Tomorrow has been a significant project in the life of the Community Focus Foundation. We were designed to support and enhance the community and helping our small businesses survive is integral to our mission. We are honored to be involved,” said Susan Threlkel, Executive Director of the Community Focus Foundation.
Founding donations by Comporium, the City of Brevard, Historic Toxaway Foundation, and Duke Energy, joined funds from task force members Heart of Brevard, Transylvania Economic Alliance, Transylvania County Tourism, and the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber to jump-start the fund. A second substantial donation two weeks later brought the City of Brevard’s total support to $30,000 and continued the positive momentum. Hundreds of individual donations were received, thanks, in part, to Oskar Blues for featuring Transylvania Tomorrow on their “Makin’ A Difference Mondays” virtual music series, a video featuring Woody Platt and Shannon Whitworth covering the song “Tomorrow” from the musical Annie, and the Brevard Music Center for featuring the video at their drive-in movie series. A few individuals went above and beyond with their support, like Jan Clare Kuba, who encouraged donations by offering her works of pottery to contributors of a certain amount. Another local artist created an attractive sticker reminding that we’re “All in This Together” with proceeds passed on to the fund. Marketing agency Market Connections also contributed by developing the logo for the initiative.
The program was set up with awards occurring every two weeks for an initial 90-day period, followed by a review by the task force to determine next steps. That review recently occurred, and the group intends to keep the initiative going with a shift in focus to supporting businesses in the coming winter.
“What we’re hearing from a lot of businesses is that they’ve made it through the tough initial impact of COVID-19 and are doing okay right now, but their concern has shifted to the winter,” states Lovelace. “Normally there are eight months of strong revenue for these businesses to stock up on to make it through the lean wintertime. That stockpile just isn’t going to be there this year.”
The task force plans to make a promotional push in the fall to raise additional funds for dispersal over the coming winter. A regular review and award process will return at that time. Donations continue to be vital to the success of the initiative. Individuals, businesses, and organizations can make a difference by making a donation right now. For information on how to support the program, visit brevardnc.org/transylvaniatomorrow.
Business owners/operators who want to learn more about the program or provide updates on their operations and outlook are invited to email [email protected] or reach out directly to leadership of the task force organizations.
About the Transylvania Business Support Task Force:
The task force was formed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic with the mission of working together to support the business community as they work through and recover from times of crisis. The task force is made up of the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce, Heart of Brevard, Transylvania Economic Alliance, Transylvania County Tourism, and Blue Ridge Community College Small Business Center.