Charlotte Center City Partners and Honeywell are excited to announce the creation of the Center City Small Business Innovation Fund, an initiative designed to spur and support innovation and adaptation by storefront small businesses as they adapt to the new economic realities caused by the COVID-19 crisis and economic downturn. This program is launching with an initial investment of $2 million by Honeywell and in partnership with the Foundation For The Carolinas. 

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 for the region.

But these entrepreneurs built their businesses to be fully open to the general public and are reliant on foot traffic for customers. Supporting storefront small business entrepreneurs as they navigate the new economic reality will make all the difference in our success and future competitiveness as an urban economy.

Small businesses will need to invest in supplies, training, design, technology, operations, infrastructure or furnishings to adapt their operations or business models. Many will need to pivot their business model. 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. Small businesses will be able to apply for grants of up to $40,000 from the Center City Small Business Innovation Fund to advance those innovations.

 

 

Charlotte Center City Small Business Innovation Fund
Awards More Than $1 Million in Grants to 34 Small Businesses In First-Round Grant Process

 

The Charlotte Center City Small Business Innovation Fund has awarded grants to 34 Center City small businesses to spur and support innovation as they adapt to new economic realities caused by the COVID-19 crisis. These businesses are located throughout Uptown, South End, Historic West End, and elsewhere in Center City, and more than 90 percent of the first-round grantees are minority-, women- or veteran-owned businesses.

The grants will enable these businesses to invest in new innovations and adaptations, including:

  • Pivoting a primarily in-person business to now include e-commerce sales
  • Investing in mobile delivery to better serve existing customers and win new ones
  • Developing new packaging capabilities so a traditional product wholesaler can now pursue retail sales opportunities

The Charlotte Center City Small Business Innovation Fund launched in June as a collaboration between Charlotte Center City Partners, Foundation For The Carolinas and founding sponsor Honeywell, which invested $2 million in the fund. Bank of America and Duke Energy also joined as sponsors, bringing the initial fund to approximately $2.3 million.

“Our dedicated and diverse volunteer grant review committee came away tremendously impressed by the caliber of proposals put forth by Charlotte’s Center City small businesses,” said Greg Lewis, Honeywell chief financial officer and chair of the Small Business Innovation Fund grant review committee. “It’s our privilege to help small businesses, particularly those owned by minorities, women and veterans, make enhancements that can help them overcome challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis.”

“We are so excited to award grants to these entrepreneurs who add vibrancy and character to our Center City through their small businesses,” said Michael Smith, president and chief executive officer of Charlotte Center City Partners. “Charlotte is full of entrepreneurs who are adapting creatively every day. It’s gratifying that our corporate leaders see the value of downtown neighborhoods full of unique and local businesses, and we are grateful for their leadership and investments in this program. We continue to seek additional funding partners to provide transformative, unprecedented investments in our community to help our small businesses adapt and emerge stronger than before.”

The application period for Round Two will open toward the end of August. All first-round applicants that did not receive funding will be automatically considered in Round Two. The first round of applications opened in early July. By the close of the two-week application period, there were 193 completed applications.

Round One By the Numbers:

  • 193 Applicants
  • 34 Grantees
    • 94% of all grantees were either minority, women, or veteran-owned businesses

Below is the full list of first-round grantees:

  • Black Pearl Global Investments
  • BLKMRKTCLT
  • Blue Print Consulting Inc. (No Grease)
  • Boardroom Health Solutions LLC (Jamie Scott Fitness)
  • Bulgogi Box
  • Charlotte NC Tours, LLC
  • CLT Find
  • Dunx Coffee
  • DUPP&SWAT
  • E-fix Housing Solutions
  • Elder Gallery of Contemporary Art
  • Futo Buta
  • Golden Cow Creamery
  • Hodges Taylor Art Consultancy
  • Hustle House
  • IEnate, LLC (Pauline Tea-Bar Apothecary)
  • Jeffre Scott Apothecary
  • M and R Inc. (Eden Dry Cleaners)
  • MarlieQs Caribbean Queen Food Truck
  • MumEase LLC
  • Oh Script Paper Co
  • OMJ Clothing
  • Petra’s Piano Bar & Cabaret
  • Poppin Sweets, Inc
  • Powell Enterprises of Charlotte (West End Seafood)
  • Red Clay Ciderworks
  • Savvy Bride Boutique
  • StoryNow
  • Sycamore Brewing
  • The Beehive
  • The Mother Earth Group, Inc.
  • The Shed
  • Triple C Brewing Company
  • Uptown Yolk

 

Resources

 

Please don’t hesitate to contact us at innovationfund@charlottecentercity.org with any questions.