Queen City entrepreneurs carry their businesses through shutdown with PPP, Truliant

WINSTON-SALEM, NC (April 19, 2022) — Through pandemic interruptions of daily activities and the resulting threat to livelihoods, Charlotte entrepreneurs were among many in North Carolina who sustained their local small businesses with 1,573 U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans funded by Truliant Federal Credit Union.

Truliant backed $46,185,361 in PPP loans, helping business owners bridge an uncertain future with an average loan of $29,361 and as little as $699. Those are in stark contrast to the amounts Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse ($20M), the Los Angeles Lakers ($4.6M), Shake Shack ($10M), and Potbelly Sandwich Shop ($10M) would receive from the $790.9 billion issued by the SBA through May 31, 2021.

For Kara Taddeo, owner of VBGB Beer Hall & Garden Restaurant and 8.2.0 event venue in Uptown Charlotte, Truliant was a difference maker in swiftly navigating the PPP process. After being denied by the bank with which she enjoyed a ten-year account relationship, the credit union kept alive her aspirations as a member of the local business community.

The credit union helped Taddeo secure PPP loans in 2020 and 2021 that have been fully forgiven by the SBA, and she estimates VBGB has recovered about 60 percent of its 2019 business. She is hopeful that the summer season will push that to 85 percent while building back their event business with the rebranded 8.2.0.

“It was sheer panic, like most experienced,” said Taddeo of the uncertainty at shutdown. “Navigating the PPP was confusing and ill-guided, then we were denied.” On word of straightforward credit union experiences, she reached out to Truliant was quickly connected with Vice President, Commercial Market Executive, Charlotte Judy Wishnek, and within weeks had loans approved for both businesses. Wishnek even stepped forward to investigate and solve an issue delaying Taddeo’s second application, delivering the amended version within 24 hours.

“We recognized the importance of the Paycheck Protection Program in providing widespread relief during a very uncertain time. Businesses were trying to determine how lean they might have to get,” Wishnek recalls. Her responsiveness to Taddeo and others was the result of Truliant’s commitment of significant time and resources to an intensive, timely setup process to bring critical funding to businesses. She and her teammates serving other commercial markets understood that underpinning staffing via the PPP would give local businesses a foothold for recovery.

“It made many better suited to weather the storm,” Wishnek adds. “Making sure their employees could continue working helped them pivot, regroup and find new ways to reach customers – and keep the support of their workforces intact.”

Truliant was not alone in witnessing need among truly small businesses. First-round PPP data released by the SBA in August 2020 counted 2,859 loans extended through credit unions in North Carolina. Nearly 94 percent of those were for less than $150,000 and averaged $24,842. While comparatively small, the loans have been invaluable to entrepreneurs like Taddeo who wanted to remain viable among the local business community.

“The only reason we are still operating both of our businesses is thanks to the grants and loans that went entirely to payroll and rent,” she adds. “Without them we 100% would have closed down within the first six months.”

Instead, Taddeo has kept the lights on at VBGB—opened as Charlotte’s first beer garden in 2011 within a year of her envisioning it with her husband upon their move into the area—and looks forward to renewed outdoor and indoor gatherings, energy from nearby performances, and scheduled celebrations and corporate events at 8.2.0. Just as she sees Truliant as integral in the longevity of her businesses, she understands that the dynamic that fuels them comes with lingering risk.

“We are cautiously optimistic. Our business model was one of the hardest hit,” she reflects, underscoring the dependence of hers and neighboring venues on public comfort with and safety in large gatherings. “These have been some of the last areas to rebound, but we are super hopeful.”


About Truliant Federal Credit Union

Truliant is a mission-driven, not-for-profit financial institution that improves lives by providing great service and straightforward financial solutions. Truliant was chartered in 1952 and now serves 316,000+ members. Truliant has more than 35 Member Financial Centers in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.  


Heath Combs
Public Relations
Truliant Federal Credit Union

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