Business news you can feel good about during COVID-19

April 3, 2020

In lieu of our normally scheduled Business Buzz, today we wanted to bring you news in Western North Carolina to put a smile on your face. In the unexpected situation we have found ourselves in, individuals and small businesses here in Buncombe County have found innovative ways to rally together, support each other, and meet crucial needs in our community. Together, we’re more.

New Belgium Brewing launches relief fund for their employees 

The New Belgium Brewing Bar & Restaurant Relief Fund kicked off last week with the goal of supporting laid off and furloughed New Belgium employeest in Fort Collins and Asheville, who are in need of financial assistance due to the COVID-19 economic disruption. New Belgium has a seed fund donor who has committed to match donations up to $50,000. Grants in the amount of $350 per individual will be distributed to help as many qualified applicants as possible. Learn more about their relief fund here.

GPM Corp is using their event funds to buy food from local restaurants and deliver it to nursing home staff 

Geriatric Practice Management Corp (GPM) is a medical software company headquartered downtown. Starting this week, they’ve begun to take their funds previously allocated for events to provide lunches for local nursing home staff. They are ordering from local restaurants like Romans and 67 Biltmore, and the first lunch recipient is the Brooks-Howell Home on Merrimon Ave.

GPM CEO Ted Van Duyn says, “We love our town and see an opportunity to help our struggling small businesses using funds we’d planned to spend on our office staff who are now practicing social distancing by working from home and hosting meetings virtually. This effort accomplishes both goals, and we are calling on others, business and individuals alike, to follow suit.”

The Chai Pani Group auctions off cocktail-making classes, cooking lessons, and more to support their employees

The folks at Chai Pani Restaurant Group have cooked up a fun way to raise money for their staff; they recently launched a new website portal where residents can bid on limited edition sweatshirts, special illustrations from local artists, a private cooking lesson and dinner with chef Meherwan Irani, backyard barbeque with Buxton Hall chef Elliott Manning, and more.

Check out their offers on their website – note that some of these opportunities will wait until social distancing eases up.

A Hendersonville teenager delivered thank you goodie bags to medical staff.

A 13-year-old named Charles decided to do something special to say thank you to healthcare providers at AdventHealth in Hendersonville. Charles participates in the Congressional Award Leadership Program, and decided to make the AdventHealth Emergency team the focus of his Voluntary Public Service goal in this program. He made special snack bags and included an encouraging letter in each one.

“Throughout this health crisis our team members are getting so much encouragement from these generous acts from our community. It resonates the truth that we are in this together and AdventHealth wants to say thank you, to Charles and to all of the people who are reaching out to show their support,” said Jimm Bunch, AdventHealth Hendersonville President and CEO.

Three Asheville companies have organize COVID Mobilize Project 

Nomadic Software, Breedlove & Company, SCW, Amplified Media and Status Forward have volunteered to launch the COVD Mobilize Project, an initiative to bridge stable companies who have a hand to lend, and the front-line organizations working through this crisis. The free platform is a match-making service that will empower public and nonprofit entities to list needs and requests on a virtual platform, then companies may bid or donate products and services to accommodate those requests. So far, they have connected Range Urgen Care to a sewing community hand-making masks, supported Asheville Makers to successfully prototype and 3D print a face shield, empowered Security Camera Warehouse to begin manufacturing plastic gowns and PPE, and connected Eda Rhyne Distilling to a supplier able to provide dozens of gallons of coconut oil to manufacture hand sanitizer.

Movie theatres  are closed, but you can still stream the best arthouse films from your couch 

The Grail has come up with a creative way to still bring independent arthouse films to Asheville even when their doors are closed. Their new SOFA CINEMA program gives people the ability to watch new releases and supporting Grail Moviehouse at the same time. Through partnerships with some of their distributors, a portion of each e-ticket will go directly to the Grail to help them survive the temporary closure. An e-ticket comes along with a link and a password to stream the purchased film, and you can buy it online at their website.

The YMCA continues to donate food with their mobile markets 

The Y’s mobile markets and meal programs have moved into high gear over the past two weeks. More than 30 scheduled mobile food market sites in five counties are running as scheduled each month, with prepackaged bags of fresh produce. The Y is also serving takeout meals at nine sites across Buncombe, Haywood, and McDowell counties. These sites include the Corpening Memorial YMCA in Marion and the Ferguson Family YMCA in Candler, which serve takeout lunch Monday through Saturday.

To meet the enormous demand, the Y has partnered with The Venue, a catering and event space in downtown Asheville. The company has donated the use of its certified kitchen and equipment for Y staff and volunteers to prepare takeout meals for people in need.

“We are thoroughly honored to be able to participate in this effort,” said Marta Santamaria, owner of The Venue. “Our goal is to be able to do about 2,000 meals a day.”

Mount Inspiration has started a fundraiser drive to support local businesses 

Mount Inspiration has taken a unique approach to fundraising for those in need. Their #AVLStrong donation drive will raise money for small businesses, and in return, they are delivering t-shirts and stickers for donors.

Many local manufacturing businesses have pivoted to produce masks, ventilators, and more 

 SylvanSport, Kitsbow Cycling Apparel, Diamond Brand Gear in Fletcher, Asheville-based Industry Nine, Tsugo in Boone and many other outdoor gear builders are turning their factories into PPE-manufacturing machines to churn out face masks, Tyvek gowns and face shields in the millions for medical workers and first responders, and even creating jobs in the process.

Despite the pandemic, The American Red Cross has been able to meet immediate needs for blood. 

Two weeks ago, the American Red Cross was facing a dire blood shortage due to blood drive cancellations. However, thanks to the many who gave blood and scheduled upcoming appointments, the American Red Cross has been able to meet immediate patient needs. They would like to thank the generosity of the Western North Carolinians, their partners who hosted the drives, volunteers who took temperatures and checked in donors, and the hundreds of donors who visited our Asheville donation center or a mobile blood drive.

Note: There is no known end date in this fight against coronavirus, so we continue to encourage people to check, download the Red Cross Blood app, or call 1-800-REDCROSS to schedule an appointment