When the North Carolina General Assembly reconvenes next week, lawmakers will look at a bill that would set aside $5-million in recovery funds for tourism-related businesses in Buncombe County.
Republican state senator Chuck Edwards announced Friday he would introduce a bill that calls for money unspent from the Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority's 'Tourism Product Development Fund' to be awarded via grants to tourism-related businesses and non-profits that have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible applicants could apply for up to $50-thousand, which must be spent on the restart of their business when it safe to do so.
"This bill aims to help establish a local government stimulus initiative that makes extraordinary investments to get Buncombe County businesses back up and running and workers returning to their jobs as quickly as possible," Edwards said in a press release Friday. "It provides much-needed financial support for the small businesses that are the lifeblood of the Buncombe County visitor economy.”
Businesses and non-profits that would qualify are any that provide a 'direct experience for visitors', and meet the requirements to be listed on the Buncombe County TDA's ExploreAsheville.com website. Senator Edwards' press release lists 'restaurants, retail, studios and galleries, attractions, tours and activities, breweries, wineries, cideries, distilleries, entertainment and event venues, and numerous other categories' as eligible. Lodging properties are not.
The General Assembly is due back in Raleigh Tuesday to take up emergency spending and policies related to the COVID-19 pandemic.