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President's Update: Grants + Free Testing + Info + Voting + Safe Working Survey = October Member Brief

President's Update: Grants + Free Testing + Info + Voting + Safe Working Survey = October Member Brief

Good morning,

The next few weeks will be very busy and distracting (elections, new stimulus, Covid, etc).  I encourage you to stay focused on your goals, engaged with your customers, connected with your employees, committed to innovative marketing, optimistic about the coming holiday shopping season, and resolved to #buylocal and engage in #safecommerce.

At the Chamber we are 100% For You and committed to helping you and our community navigate this Covid economy and emerge successful on the other side.

Please explore below new grant opportunities, testing options, community updates, voter information, and a Covid work practices survey.


A Survey to To Plan a Safe Return to Work (it took me about 12 minutes)

Carolina PROSPER, an interdisciplinary team of safety and health experts at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health created the COVID-19 Worksite Impact Survey.  Please help the UNC Research Team learn about your business’s workplace safety, health, and well-being needs by participating in this survey. PROSPER researchers will use the survey results to develop and deliver free tools and resources for area businesses.

Free Covid Testing, Every Day, in Orange County

Beginning Monday, October 26, there will be free COVID-19 testing at the Whitted Human Services Building in Hillsborough (300 West Tryon Street), Monday through Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm.  Anyone is welcome to come for a test. Pre-registration is encouraged  Click Here to RegisterClick Here for a Flyer to share with your staff. Flyer in Spanish.

Small Business Grants up to $20,000

For certain businesses that were prevented from opening due to COVID restrictions, the new NC Mortgage, Utility and Rent Relief (MURR) Program will fund up to four months of rent, mortgage interest, and utility costs incurred between April - August 2020.  Businesses must have paid these costs in order to receive relief payments from the program, and you'll be required to show evidence that these payments were in fact made. The relief amount may not exceed $20,000 per business location, with a limit of up to two locations per applicant (for a maximum of $40,000 per business). Application:

Get Out and Give Back Campaign

In an effort to boost support for local businesses, the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau has produced a Get Out and Give Back campaign featuring local elected officials at local restaurants: Please share on your social media.

Go Vote.  Please, Go Vote

for information on voting in location elections, including early voting poll site location and hours, candidates, and sample ballots, please visit the Chamber’s comprehensive Election Hub.

New Forgiveness Rules for PPPs under $50,000

Pro Tip: While the SBA has produced a loan forgiveness application for PPPs less than $50,000 (linked below), you should wait for your bank, credit union, or fintech to set up a forgiveness application/portal, as they will need to process the forgiveness.  Reminder, you have 10 months following the end of your spending period to apply for forgiveness, so you have some time.  Click hereto view the simpler loan forgiveness application and herefor instructions for completing it. Click hereto view the Interim Final Rule on the simpler forgiveness process for loans of $50,000 or less.

General PPP Forgiveness Anxiety

We are hearing local business anxiety about their PPP loan forgiveness.  Please be patient as many banks have not yet launched their forgiveness portals and borrowers you have 10 months following the end of their spending period to apply for forgiveness.  In addition, Federal government may offer additional flexibility for smaller loans which may be worth waiting for.  I encourage continued patience.

$150 Million RTLP (1,000 jobs) Approved by Orange County

With the strong support of our Chamber, the Orange County Board of Commissioners approved the Research Triangle Logistics Park (RTLP) by a 6-1 vote.  RTLP is a $150 million investment for a 2.25 million square foot distribution/warehousing site in the Hillsborough economic development district which will create 1,000 jobs with a family-sustaining wages. The video of the final discussion and vote will be posted here soon and here was our position of full support. If you would like to send the Commissioners an email of appreciation, email

Downtown Business Grants (Applications open October 22-29)

The HartBeat of Main Street Grant Program will fund solutions that help small business owners respond and adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic, and also help to revitalize and strengthen older and historic downtown commercial districts. Grants of $5,000 to $15,000 will be awarded on a competitive and first-come, first-served basis. A minimum of 50 percent of grants will benefit diverse-owned businesses, as defined by the Small Business Administration as minority, woman, veteran, disabled, and/or LGBTQ-owned.

Export Support Grants

Companies with fewer than 500 employees are eligible for reimbursements of as much as $5,000 for registering a booth in an in-person or virtual international trade show; as much as $6,000 for related foreign-language translation of marketing materials; and as much as $3,000 for airfare and lodging connected to an in-person event.  In addition, the program administered by the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina provides as much as $10,000 to help a small business pay for translation and search-engine optimization of its website in two global markets. Companies interested in participating should email the international trade division at

University Reopening Plans 

The University has announced their Spring Schedule including a delayed first day of class, no week-long Spring Break, and a delayed graduation date (week after Mother’s Day).  In additional good news, the infection rate among students and staff has substantially declined UNC Covid Dashboard and a host of committees are making detailed plans for the Spring Semester.


As always, thank you for your membership and please call on me, or any of our staff or volunteers, if there is anything we can be doing for you now, or in the future.


In partnership,


Aaron Nelson, IOM

President and CEO

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