N.C. Gov. Easley Reports Loans are Helping Businesses Recover from Hurricane Damage

May 17, 2005

The smell of fresh-brewed coffee has replaced the stench of mud and mold in the Kismet Café, which reopened last Friday in Asheville’s Biltmore Village thanks to a small business loan provided by North Carolina Gov. Mike Easley’s Business Recovery Assistance Program., which is part of the $247 million Hurricane Recovery Act of 2005.

“The goal of this program is to help hardworking people whose businesses were damaged or destroyed by the hurricanes get back on their feet,” said Easley. “More than $3 million in loans have been provided already to cover uninsured losses and help rebuild and reopen local businesses.”

The Business Recovery Assistance Program is managed by the N.C. Department of Commerce. The program will allocate a total of $10 million to support business recovery assistance in the 50 disaster-declared counties.

To date, the program has counseled more than 120 applicants and approved 50 loans totaling $3.1 million. In addition, 22 people who borrowed money from the U.S. Small Business Administration will receive a total of $223,000 to offset a portion of the interest they will pay for those disaster relief loans.

The program provided Bob and Jennifer Rhea a loan to help reopen the Kismet Café, which has been closed since Biltmore Village was flooded in September 2004.

“The loan made a world of difference to us,” said Jennifer Rhea, whose business was destroyed by 30 inches of standing water. “This has been a stressful process, but the people involved have been so helpful. To us, this loan represents a safety net. It lets us get back in business and where we need to be.”

Friday’s reopening allowed the Kismet Café to again serve local patrons, as well as enjoy the benefits of the bustling tourist season. “The timing is perfect,” Rhea said. “We can hardly wait to get rolling again.”

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