North Carolina coffee shop receives business-saving loan through stimulus program

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Loans from the more than $2 trillion economic relief package saved Bitty & Beau's Coffee Shops, owner Amy Wright said Wednesday.

Appearing on "America's Newsroom" with host Sandra Smith, Wright explained that the connection with their local bank -- Live Oak Bank in Wilmington, North Carolina -- and their support was what made the difference.

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"So, we operate five brick-and-mortar coffee shops that are all run by people with intellectual and development disabilities. And, Live Oak Bank...has been a huge supporter of our missions since we opened our doors," Wright stated.

"And, when they heard we had laid off all 120 of our employees with disabilities, they stepped in and they said, 'We want to help you through this process. When the PPP loans (Paycheck Protection Program loans) become available, we are here to help you," she continued.

"Very accessible, very seamless for us and just made bringing our employees back to work so that they could earn their paycheck again possible," Wright remarked.

Wright also told Smith that the company had made the decision to shutter about three weeks ago, before the federal mandates, for the health and safety of both their employees and customers.

"It was a very tough day for us. But, fortunately, we have an online business as well that continues to support us through the sale of coffee beans and merchandise. And, our employees -- I'm excited to bring back to work, back on the payroll, so that they can help with writing handwritten notes that are included with each order that we ship," she noted.

The company will be sharing the news about the funding with its employees through a Zoom call later Wednesday.

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"And, I'm very excited to share this with them because 80 percent of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities are unemployed. That is a national statistic," Wright added.

"Most of our employees have never had a job before. So, when we had to temporarily lay them off it was a very scary time. And so, I'm just very excited to share with them that they're going to be continuing to earn a paycheck and contributing to our business," she concluded.