Local Businesses Prepare for G.V. Barbee Bridge to Oak Island’s Temporary Closure
The Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce continued the It’s Worth the Drive Seminar Series on Monday and Tuesday of this week with a Business Preparedness Resource Panel Discussion. “Knowledge and planning are key to keeping our small businesses viable during the 6-month disruption in the area’s normal traffic patterns”, said Karen Sphar, Executive Vice President of the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce.
Panel members were: Kevin G. Bowen, Division Construction Engineer with the NC Department of Transportation; Karl Zurl, Regional Operations Director of SE Division of Workforce Solutions, Marcell Hatten, NC Workforce Solutions and JaLisha Richmond, Loan Officer at Thread Capital a non-profit lending organization with the NC Rural Center.
Mr. Bowen, NCDOT discussed the timeline, cost of the project and implementation strategies for the project. He indicated that work will begin underneath the bridge now until mid-October. The work to prepare Oak Island Drive for the additional traffic and signal adjustments will take place after Labor Day. The temporary closure of the G.V. Barbee will not take place until a date to be determined after the U.S. Open King Mackerel Tournament -October 4th-6th and is scheduled to reopen by Easter 2019 (April 21st). After the reopening of the G.V. Barbee Bridge, NC DOT will resurface Oak Island Drive and that work will be completed by Summer 2019. The widening of NC Highway 211 project will not begin until after the G.V. Barbee Bridge project is completed. Sphar thanked Bowen for NCDOT’s responsiveness in reducing the number of months for the closure and its commitment to safety.
Karl Zurl, NC Workforce Solutions reviewed the process and requirements for employees to apply for unemployment. He also discussed federal funds that are available to small businesses through Incumbent Worker Training Grants to assist employers with training for employees with a skill gap. These grants are $10,000 - $60,000 with businesses providing 10% of the training funding. He suggested that during the temporary closure it may be a good time to provide employees with additional training through the grant program.
JaLisha Richmond, Loan Officer with Thread Capital, a non-profit lender presented information about their program for businesses who experience cash flow issues during the temporary bridge closure. She also suggested contacting a local financial institution to discuss all lending options. Thread Capital may lend up to $20,000 for a small business open under a year and $50,000 for businesses open over a year. They have interest rates starting at 10.99% but are very flexible with repayment options including delayed payments and possibility to defer interest payments. Additional economic injury disaster loans through the US Small Business Administration are available.
April Scott, BCC Small Business Center stressed to the business owners that they need to plan now and offered free assistance thru BCC SBC or the SBTDC at UNCW to the local businesses to review and adjust a current business plan or to assist them in creating a business plan.
For more information on this topic or future It’s Worth the Drive Go Local Seminar Series contact the Southport-Oak Island Area Chamber of Commerce at (910) 457-6964 or visit www.itsworththedrive.com