Charlotte Center City Partners and Honeywell created the Center City Small Business Innovation Fund, an initiative designed to spur and support innovation and adaptation by storefront small businesses as they navigate the new economic realities caused by the COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn. This program was launched in 2020 with an initial investment of $2 million by Honeywell and in partnership with the Foundation For The Carolinas, with support from Bank of America, Duke Energy, Knight Foundation, and the City of Charlotte. Since the launch, there have been four rounds of grants totaling $4.6 million awarded to 143 innovative small businesses in the Charlotte community. Ninety-three percent of those grants were made to woman-, minority- and/or veteran-owned businesses.
Round Five of the Small Business Innovation Fund will open in Fall 2022. Details will be available soon.
Why was the Fund created?
Center City is fortunate to have hundreds of restaurants, breweries, bakeries, coffee shops, salons, retailers, food trucks, and other small businesses. Together, these businesses create the vibrancy and character that residents, visitors, workers, and major employers crave, and they distinguish Center City as an essential economic engine and cultural center for the region.
However, these entrepreneurs built their businesses to be fully open to the general public and are reliant on foot traffic for customers. Small businesses will need to invest in supplies, training, design, technology, operations, infrastructure, or furnishings to adapt their operations or business models. Businesses will need to innovate to stay competitive and advance. Charlotte has a strong history of leveraging private-public partnerships to pull off innovative and courageous moves, and supporting storefront small business entrepreneurs as they navigate the economic realities caused by COVID-19 will make all the difference in Center City’s success and future competitiveness as an urban economy.