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 $1.16 Million in Second
Round of Grants to 37 Businesses

 The Charlotte Center City Small Business Innovation Fund has awarded $1,166,000 in Round Two grants to Center City small businesses to spur and support innovation as they continue to adapt to the new economic realities caused by the COVID-19 crisis. 92% percent of the 37 second-round grantees are minority-, women- or veteran-owned businesses. These businesses join the 34 who were awarded grants in August during Round One, all located throughout Uptown, South End, Historic West End, and elsewhere in Center City Charlotte.

Each of these applications proves that small businesses in Charlotte are innovating and creating during the pandemic. Each is moving forward and making plans to share their “lessons learned” to help make other small businesses more resilient.

The Round Two grants will enable these 37 businesses to invest in new innovations and adaptations, including:

  • Creating e-commerce opportunities, digital enhancements and virtual environments to better vie for consumer attention and facilitate consumer spending
  • Making mobility investments to better meet customers’ new routines and spending habits
  • Investing in wearable technology to help with contactless delivery of services and goods
  • Upgrading infrastructure to better utilize outside environments and increase consumer confidence

“We are so excited to award more grants to Center City’s entrepreneurs who add vibrancy and character to our Center City through their small businesses,” said Michael Smith, President and CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners. “The fund is now supporting more than 70 businesses investing in their future during this pandemic, which is a true testament to Center City’s future and resiliency. Once you connect those entrepreneurs and their innovative projects plus the additional programming and other projects coming on-line, Charlotte and Center City are poised to continue to innovate and outperform during this recovery.” 

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.

“Grants from the Small Business Innovation Fund continue to help small businesses, particularly those owned by minorities, women and veterans, adapt to ever-changing conditions and serve their customers,” said Greg Lewis, Honeywell chief financial officer and chair of the Small Business Innovation Fund grant review committee. “The 71 small businesses that received grants from the Innovation Fund will make Charlotte more resilient and vibrant.”

Bank of America and Duke Energy also joined as sponsors of the grant program this summer, bringing the initial fund to approximately $2.3 million. The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation also pledged $250,000 to the Center City Small Business Innovation Fund to help more businesses in Charlotte’s Historic West End overcome the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

The second round of applications opened in early September. By the close of the two-week application period, there were 247 completed applications.

Round Two by the Numbers:

  • 247 Applicants
  • 37 Grantees
  • 92% of all grantees were either minority, women, or veteran-owned businesses

The application period for Round Three opens on October 26, 2020. The funding sources for this round will be federal funding through the CARES Act and City of Charlotte. Therefore, all small businesses physically located throughout the entire City of Charlotte are eligible to apply. Details about the Small Business Innovation Fund: Round 3 – All of CLT will be available at: CharlotteCenterCity.org/InnovationFund

There will also be a Round 4 in early 2021, but details for that round will be announced in January 2021.

Below is the full list of Round 2 grantees: 

  • A Sign of the Times of the Carolinas
  • Bentala Salon
  • Blooming Smiles Pediatric Dentistry
  • Brevard Court
  • Cheesecake Carousel
  • CLT Boutique
  • Craft Tasting Room & Growler Shop and Lincoln Street Kitchen & Cocktails
  • Emerson Real Estate Advisors
  • Fashion & Compassion
  • Girl Tribe
  • Goodyear Arts
  • Graham St. Pub & Patio
  • Halal Food Cart
  • Halcyon
  • Hot Box Food Group
  • International Truck of Tacos
  • IT-HenHouse
  • Joedance Film Festival
  • Levine Museum of the New South
  • Madame Shea
  • Midtown Ballroom
  • Moxie Mercantile
  • Open Door Studios
  • Paul Andre Boutique
  • Pepperbox Doughnuts
  • Pet Wants
  • Popbar
  • Queen City Mutiny – Charlotte Futsal
  • Rebrand Media
  • Riplash at BuffSalon
  • Southern Blossom Florist
  • Three Little Birds Stationery & Gifts
  • Venue at 1801
  • Visulite Theatre
  • Waterbean Coffee
  • Wonderworld Creative
  • Zia Pia

***

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.