2021 NC Main Street Award: Organization
Best Economic Recovery Initiative
Heart of Brevard
The Transylvania Tomorrow Small Business Emergency Relief Fund, known as Transylvania Tomorrow, was initiated by the Heart of Brevard to provide immediate relief to small businesses in Transylvania County during the COVID-19 pandemic. Transylvania Tomorrow is a collaboration of the Transylvania Business Support Task Force, led by Heart of Brevard, and includes the Brevard/Transylvania Chamber of Commerce, the Transylvania Economic Alliance, Transylvania County Tourism, and the Blue Ridge Community College Small Business Center. The Task Force was created to address the impact of COVID-19, and to support the business community during the pandemic.
The program awarded grants of up to $3,000 to small businesses impacted by COVID-19. In spring 2020, Transylvania Tomorrow raised and distributed more than $166,000 to 93 businesses throughout Transylvania County. Concerned about local businesses weathering the winter, Transylvania Tomorrow announced a second series of funding. Today, the program has supported 111 Transylvania County small businesses with $249,250 in funding. Forty-six downtown Brevard businesses received over $103,000 in funding.
The program provided financial support for rent, payroll, and utilities to the business community, when the thought of acquiring additional loans and navigating state/federal funding options was overwhelming. Other efforts included conducting business impact surveys, hosting town hall meetings, and distributing COVID-19 messaging to keep the community safer.
The Transylvania Tomorrow fund is made possible through a partnership with the Community Focus Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, that serves as a vehicle for a range of development needs. The Task Force leveraged its relationships to create a fast marketing campaign to raise funds from corporate sponsors, the City of Brevard, and the private sector. It created an online application to manage businesses’ requests. A selection committee reviewed applications and awarded grants until funds were exhausted. Recipient testimonials, local business partnerships, and promotional videos helped generate significant funds for the project. Brevard Music Center hosted a drive-in movie that helped generate donations, too.
Transylvania Tomorrow has had a substantial impact on the community by sustaining small businesses during very difficult times.