Charlotte plans to expand micro-business grants

Charlotte City Council debates how to spend relief funding

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - More money will be made available to small businesses in Charlotte but there’s debate between city leaders over the best way to allocate those funds. During the Small Business Community Recovery Task Force meeting Tuesday morning city council members and industry leaders differed over where the money is most needed.

On Monday Charlotte city leaders announced a plan to expand the city’s micro-business grant program. The current program is limited to companies with five employees or less in low-income areas. The expansion of the program would make it available to all micro-businesses in city limits.

It’s just one portion of the city’s “Survive and Thrive” program that targets economic recovery for businesses suffering during the pandemic. The city manager has allocated $35 million in federal funding COVID-19 related funding to the program. The city has received a total of $154 million in federal funding.

LGBT Chamber of Commerce president Chad Turner said the $10,000 available to those businesses could make a big difference.

“It is hugely impactful when you're talking about funds that have not been received federal or state agencies,” Turner said.

“Access to capital is the critical part in the “Survive” but I would encourage you all not to make that the only part,” Charlotte Economic Development Director Tracy Dodson said.

Councilman Tariq Bokhari was one of the committee members who questioned whether these grants was akin to throwing a pebble into a pond and advocated for more focus on the “Thrive” portion of the program.

“Is it that there's not enough money to for everyone to eat fish therefore we need to teach small businesses how to fish in the new ways of the new normal,” Bokhari said.

The “Thrive” part of the program would focus on setting up business workshops and accelerators to help company leaders succeed in a post-COVID-19 economy.

The committee did not settle on a funding amount for the business grant program. The plan would need to be approved by the entire council.

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