Under a new grant, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Black Chamber of Commerce (CMBCC) is helping Black businesses reopen doors shuttered by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Chamber received a $200,000 grant from the City of Charlotte’s $2 million Covid-19 relief fund for partnering entities that serve the small-business community.
According to Shante Williams, CMBCC’s board chair, funds will go toward the organization’s Back-to-Business Technical Assistance Grant program. The virtual business incubator and technical assistance program targets Charlotte-area Black businesses that have closed or had trouble reopening because of the pandemic.
“Our goal is to make sure that these businesses are back open and generating revenue by the end of the year and are in a strong position to weather the next economic downturn,” Williams told QCity Metro.
Across the nation, Black businesses have suffered the largest early-stage losses due to the pandemic. There were 1.1 million Black businesses in the U.S. in February, according to research from the University of California at Santa Cruz. That number plummeted to 640,000 in April, representing a 41% loss. In comparison, 32% of Latinx-owned businesses and 17% of white-owned businesses closed during the same period.
Who is eligible?
In addition to those that have closed or having trouble reopening, Williams says new businesses or owners “who have been forced into entrepreneurship due to Covid-19” are also eligible. A special focus is placed on Black businesses located on West Boulevard and along the Sugar Creek Road-Interstate 85 corridor.
“They are two areas that have been underinvested in for years and are now experiencing gentrification,” Williams explained. “We want to support the community via economic development from within and build thriving businesses.”
How to apply
Business owners can complete a brief application or submit a video up to five minutes describing their business, their Covid-related barriers and how they would use technical assistance for reopening.
Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all slots are filled.
All applicants will be granted access to an accelerator-type online program that begins Aug. 5. The program will be administered by The Boost Pad, a nonprofit focused on boosting economic mobility through entrepreneurship for underrepresented and/or underinvested founders. Program participants are matched with local subject-matter experts to guide them through the process.
Fifteen applicants will be selected to receive up to $5,000 capital for their business.
“We want this to be the new direction of the Chamber, with direct business entrepreneurial support and funding,” Williams added.
Visit cmbcc.org for more information and to apply.