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State offers new relief for businesses closed during pandemic

For the past six months, business owners in all sectors have had to make tough choices on closing, reopening and operating their businesses. For some, however, reopening has not been possibly until fairly recently. Others still are unable to open at all, due to restrictions imposed by the state government.

For select categories of businesses that have had to remain closed during Phase II of the state’s reopening plan, a new grant opportunity may provide some financial relief. The North Carolina Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief grant program can provide grants of up to $20,000 in relief for qualifying businesses to help cover expenses such as rent, utilities and mortgages, all of which have had to be paid throughout the pandemic.

Since March, Washington-Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce Director Catherine Glover says the majority of local business owners who had to shut their doors have looked into relief from the state or federal level, including paycheck protection, Small Business Administration loans and others. The results, however have been a mixed, she said.

“Anything the state can do to help the businesses, especially those that were forced to shut down, is really important,” Glover said. “What we’ve gotten has been kind of a mixture of what has helped. Some of them got PPP money, some applied for SBA loans — a lot of people are looking at not taking out a loan, but getting a grant, which is why this one is kind of appealing.”

Qualifying businesses for the MURR program include amusement parks, banquet halls (with catering staff), bars, taverns, night clubs, cocktail lounges, bingo parlors, bowling alleys, dance halls, indoor fitness and recreation centers, movie theaters and museums.

The grant application process is first-come, first-served, and is scheduled to go live next week, according to the North Carolina Department of Commerce. Additional information will be provided via webinars scheduled for Sept. 24, Sept. 29 and Oct. 2. For additional details, visit www.nccommerce.com/grants-incentives/disaster-recovery/mortgage-utility-and-rent-relief-murr-program.