NEW BERN, Craven County — A group of eastern North Carolina car dealerships are among many local business that have come together to support the COVID-19 Small Business Loan Program organized by Swiss Bear Inc. in partnership with the New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce.
When word spread among dealers at the end of April that very few businesses in the region got help from the federal government through the Paycheck Protection Program or Economic Injury Disaster Loan program and Swiss Bear had started a zero interest COVID-19 small business revolving loan program they say it became clear that was the perfect path to take to help local small businesses in the most effective way possible.
Swiss Bear Executive Director Lynne Harakal says, “I think it speaks volumes that our dealerships came together like this. New Bern can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to the economy. These owners put their personal business interests aside to work together and provide much needed assistance to New Bern’s small businesses, giving them that break they desperately need.”
Seven local car dealerships have donated a total of $35,000, which will be used as loans to small business owners who need help during the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.
The participating dealerships:
Each contributed $5,000 and owners say they had no hesitation when the idea was brought to them,
“There was no question that we had to do something, or else these small business owners would fall short. We can’t let these people who work as hard as can be go out of business. That’s not happening on our watch,” said one dealership.
Applications can be submitted online with the Chamber of Commerce and Swiss Bear overseeing the process to ensure they are complete and within the guidelines associated with the program. While the loan does have a limit of $10,000 per business depending on their monthly rent or mortgage, officials say it is a zero-interest loan with no payments the first 12 months.
The loan program should begin before the end of May. Small businesses can check for program details later this month on the Swiss Bear and New Bern Area Chamber of Commerce websites.