Asheville Downtown Association held a virtual State of Downtown meeting, saying the situation in the area is struggling, but improving.
Mayor Esther Manheimer and Buncombe County Commission chairman Brownie Newman were part of the event.
Executive director Meghan Rogers said equity and inclusion are top priorities for the association's strategic planning. She also said a survey of 93 downtown businesses showed 17 were in danger of closing because of economic hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"I worry that when we lose our small local businesses, we lose some of the character of downtown," Rogers said. "And, I hope that with the second round of the PPP and the relaunch of the One Buncombe Fund we can help save these businesses."
Rogers said the survey showed other top issues are parking, cleanliness, safety, homelessness and rent and cost increases.