CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The coronavirus pandemic did not only take a toll on the health of North Carolinians, but it also hit our businesses hard, closing some as others thrived.
Rewind the time machine back about a year, and Charlotte was a city that was booming. Nobody saw what was about to grip every city, county, and state across the nation.
"It is truly a matter of life or death," said Governor Roy Cooper at a news conference on March 27, 2020, when he announced a statewide 'Stay At Home' order.
Days later, everything stopped.
Over the course of the next 12 months, and counting, it shuttered the doors at dozens of businesses.
"In the Metro area, hundreds of businesses closed," said Kenny Colbert, the Co-CEO of Catapult, formerly the Employers Association of Charlotte.
"Well, I think everybody in March and April and May were just scared to death," Colbert reflected.
It turns out, many were scared for good reason.
The Charlotte area saw places like Regal Manor Theatre, JJ Red Hots in Uptown, many businesses at the Epicenter and Queen City Q close for good.
That's just scraping the surface.
"We lost 100% of our business overnight," Bryan Meredith, the former owner of Queen City Q, told us when he closed last summer. "There is no light at the end of the tunnel."
For many, it was more than a loss of a local business. It meant people were robbed of their jobs. Communities suffered the loss of their go-to businesses.
"In too many cases this was their livelihood," Colbert added.
The North Carolina Department of Commerce showed as of December of 2020, 37,872 people didn't have a job in Mecklenburg County.
The county's unemployment rate at 6.1%. The state's unemployment rate stood at 6% as of December of 2020.
Helping you through this financial pandemic. WCNC Charlotte is asking, "Where's the Money?" See our continuing coverage.
The new numbers for January 2021 are expected to be released in mid-March, according to the department of commerce's website.
"My business is maybe a quarter of what it was," said Phyllis Rollins, the owner of Iyengar Yoga Charlotte.
She was forced to adapt. She permanently closed her Elizabeth studio and moved to virtual classes only.
"There was some grief. There was some letting go," she said.
She gave up the lease to her building where she taught Yoga to dozens of people.
However, with steady business, she's optimistic about the future.
Colbert is as well.
"The business sector has certainly picked up in the last three to four months," he said.
Industries like hospitality and travel will have a slow recovery, according to Colbert, but manufacturing, construction and real estate are already roaring back.
"These sectors are all having practically record years right now," he said.
With so many businesses lost, there were businesses that were born. Some 127,000 new businesses were started during the pandemic, according to Colbert, showing hope for a recovery.
"It shows you there is some strength in the economy," he said.