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The City of Charlotte announced on Friday its Open for Business initiative to connect residents with local small businesses that are open during the Covid-19 pandemic and throughout the recovery.

Earlier this month, business owners desperate for help spoke to city leaders about how best to support them during a time when sales are tanking and more than 630,000 North Carolinians have filed for unemployment. Overwhelmingly, the ask was for a centralized hub for residents to know which local businesses remained open.

In the short term, community members have rallied together hoping to spotlight open businesses through multiple user-generated lists and websites. 

“We heard directly from the small business community that visibility today is critical to surviving this pandemic,” Assistant City Manager Tracy Dodson said in a statement. “Small-business owners are finding creative ways to continue to serve their customers during this time, and we want to elevate their presence however we can.”

How it works

Small-business owners can complete an application to be added to a local directory that includes information like modified hours, changes to service and special offers. Those who closed their business as a result of Covid-19 can also apply to be added once the stay-at-home order is lifted. Once added, businesses can display the initiative’s logo to alert customers that they’re open. 

The Open for Business dashboard will be featured on the City’s “Small Business Resources” webpage along with state and federal resources. It will also be included on the City’s open data portal and mobile app.

“Our small businesses are the heart of our City and employ a substantial part of our workforce,” Dodson said. “It is critical that we all band together to support them today and throughout the Covid-19 recovery.”

How to apply

Businesses must create a City of Charlotte Community Hub account to access the application. Get started here.

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Katrina covers Charlotte's Black business scene for QCity Metro. She's a Miami transplant, pescatarian and lover of the arts. She earned a public relations degree from the University of Florida. Got a...