SNOW HILL, N.C. (WNCT) — The North Carolina Department of Commerce is starting the Community Economic Recovery and Resiliency Initiative or CERRI. The program is aimed at assisting communities with their recovery and response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
CERRI will provide structured planning processes for each participating community to develop strategies for economic recovery.
The initiative hopes to help struggling smaller towns and rural communities that took the hardest hits from the pandemic. The N.C. Department of Commerce says CERRI will assist local governments to effectively support their communities and set them up for future success.
Snow Hill in Greene County is one of the very first towns to test out this new initiative. They are one of eight communities in the state selected for round one.
Snow Hill Interim Town Manager Todd Whaley said COVID had a huge impact on the downtown area. He said smaller towns like Snow Hill don’t have as much manpower as larger cities, so everyone is vital to the running of the town.
Any employees or employers that need assistance this is what we want our money for. We want to keep our businesses open, we want to keep the employees there with jobs.Snow Hill Interim Town Manager Todd Whaley
Whaley said keeping local government agencies like the police force and town hall members employees on a regular hours, regular salary job has been difficult. They’ve even had to let some people go.
Local business owners like Anell George-McLawthorn had to close portions of their stores to stay afloat. Her business, Half Moon MarketPlace, was once a retail store and tearoom. The pandemic closed down the tearoom, forcing her to expand her retail.
We have lost more than half of our regular proceeds and income here due to COVID. So we hope the economic development will help us get back out there.Annell George-Mclawthorn, owner of Half Moon MarketPlace
She’s hopeful that the new initiative could re-open her tearoom with a plan to keep her business alive and thriving.