Pandemic recovery for small businesses part of Downtown Greensboro 2030 Strategic Plan

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — As 2020 comes to a close, the new year brings an uncertain future for small businesses in downtown Greensboro.

“There is really no foot traffic whatsoever,” said Allen Sainato, the owner of Healthy Boro. “With the climate of everything we don’t know which way it’s gonna go, we could go back to not having any business.”

The shake and smoothie shop received funds from Downtown Greensboro Inc., part of the organization’s Retail Revitalization Program in May. Sainato said since then, social media has helped draw in new customers.

He said business has improved through the summer, but he isn’t sure what 2021 will bring.

“In case the numbers do keep rising, we do have to shut down, anything else, just whatever would help to make sure businesses don’t have to keep closing their doors,” Sainato said.

Downtown Greensboro Inc. will aim to help. As part of the Downtown Greensboro 2030 Strategic Vision Plan, small businesses could receive micro-loans or money pools for relief.

“We are all focused on the first quarter of 2021, and what that will look like so January, February, March, we know that we’re going to have to take special steps to help small local businesses not only survive but thrive,” said Zack Matheny, president of DGI.

Recovery strategies will start immediately, including flexible rules for outdoor retail and dining, and street closures for outside events.

DGI also plans to launch a Black Entrepreneur Program to help African American business owners.

“What we wanted to do in downtown Greensboro is fill a gap that has been, in the world quite frankly,” Matheny said.

The relief will come too late for businesses like Gate City Candy Company. The owner announced Sunday the store’s closure.

DGI also hopes to eventually help create a space for small and emerging businesses with shared work spaces, and a commercial kitchen. That still could take several more years to come together.

You can read the full plan here.

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