NRGRDA Executive Director talks COVID-19’s impact on local businesses

WEST VIRGINIA (WOAY) – Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the New River Gorge Regional Development Authority has been collecting data from local businesses about the impacts the pandemic has had.

As we slowly start to see the open lights come back on, local businesses are trying to recover from that major hit.

“If you were to ask me, the restaurant industry has been the most affected,” NRGRDA Executive Director Joe Brouse said.  

Brouse also says the restaurant industry has been one of the most innovative expanding to curbside, delivery and even adding features to comply with guidelines.

He says one of the difficulties for businesses has been figuring out the uncharted territory of the various loan programs like the PPP loans and other SBA programs.

Brouse says while those programs have helped with employment, where they’re seeing the issue now is with working capital, filling that void of being out of business or losing major components of business. The NRGRDA is hoping their new funding will help with this issue. 

“The governor, through the Appalachian Regional Commission, awarded us $750,000 dollars for a loan fund. We’re going to use those monies to help smaller mom and pop businesses to try and meet that working capital piece,” Brouse said. 

In the coming weeks, we’ll see more of the takeaways from their surveys and studies as the data collection process continues, but Brouse says overall, he’s optimistic at the innovation and perseverance of the local businesses. 

“I can honestly say that there are more business owners and entrepreneurs trying than there are giving up and I’m encouraged by that,” he said. 

Check out their website if you are interested in applying for their loan program

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Anna Saunders is a weekend reporter for WOAY. With a diploma from Princeton Senior High School and a mother from Fayette County, she is no stranger to the area. She received a degree in Media Arts and Design from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and wanted to return home to start her career as a reporter.