Duke Collaboration With City and County Helps 175 Small Businesses Recover From Pandemic Losses

Downtown Durham, North Carolina

175 small, women- and minority-owned businesses in Durham received grants and loans through the Durham Small Business Recovery Fund to combat the effects of the pandemic. In a partnership between Duke, the City, County and others, Duke contributed $1 million toward grants.

The funds helped support local business during a year in which small businesses in Durham saw 15% declines in revenues. Highlights of the program in our community can be found in this report.

The recovery fund was specifically designed to reach small businesses with less than 25 employees, independently owned, sole proprietors, and independent contractors. According to the report, small, minority, and women-owned local businesses did not fare well in securing federal funding from the U.S. Small Business Administration through the Payroll Protection Program. The immediate effects of the pandemic were also disproportionately felt by businesses owned by people of color. Black-owned businesses experienced a 41% decrease in activity and Latino/a/x business owners experienced a 32% decrease, compared to only a 17% decrease for white-owned businesses.

"I'm so proud that the Durham Small Business Recovery Fund has been able to provide crucial financial support to 175 small businesses, with the majority of them being women-owned and minority-owned. This has been a critical part of our community's COVID-19 response," said City of Durham Mayor Steve Schewel. “Carolina Small Business Development Fund (CSBDF), who is administering our Recovery Fund, engaged in extensive marketing and outreach to inform the community’s entrepreneurs about the grant and loan programs. There was a concerted effort to reach Durham’s minority and women-owned firms.”

“Duke recognizes the importance of thriving businesses in community wellbeing and is pleased to partner with the City, County, and others in supporting the recovery and vitality of small businesses in Durham," said Duke Office of Durham and Community Affairs Vice President Stelfanie Williams.

The loan program continues to be administered. Working with CSBDF, the City, County, and Duke University are considering adjustments to expand the eligible pool of applicants and make the program more available and marketable to small business owners in Durham.