City of Charlotte hands out checks to small businesses

Published: Jul. 7, 2020 at 7:32 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, NC, (WBTV) - About 80 small businesses in Charlotte are getting a check for either $10,000 or $25,000 to help them survive during the coronavirus pandemic.

Charlotte received $30 million from the federal CARES Act funding. So far, the city has handed out $880,000 checks to businesses with no more than 25 employees.

Tina Tedla, who owns Enat Ethiopian Restaurant, was one of the business that received a $10,000 check.

“Very humble to be able to be chosen,” Tedla said.

Tedla opened her restaurant about three years ago and things were going well until coronavirus hit. She said she had to shut down her restaurant for awhile and lost about 50% of her business. Things got so bad she had to lay off a person from her five member team.

“It’s been really tight, going into my savings to personally survive on my own and then whatever income that’s coming in - just to make sure my restaurant stays in business,” Tedla said.

The business owner applied for other grants but she was unsuccessful.

“I really had given up with like grants and loans,” Tedla said. “Because this was one of the easiest applications I filled out.”

She said from the time she filled out the application and received the check - it took about two weeks.

“To me it was like, oh my God. There are actually people out there who really want to help small businesses - because us being small - I didn’t think people really cared,” Tedla said.

Foundations for the Carolinas was chosen to help process the applications. So far, about 2,500 small businesses applied for the relief fund. The requirements include setting up the business before January 2020, the business has to have its headquarters in Charlotte, and the small business could not have received other federal financial assistance related to COVID-19.

Leaders from the Foundation for the Carolinas tell the importance of giving small businesses a life-line.

“If they do better as a business,” Foundation for the Carolinas Exec. Vice President Nikhil Sawant said. “They not only help themselves but also their community to be able to do better. "

The Foundation for the Carolinas will continue to help small businesses adjust to the new normal. Members will go out next week contacting other small businesses.

“We’ll have boots on the ground talking to some a lot of the small businesses,” Sawant said. “So that those people who have not gotten any grants from other sources - they may be hard to reach and the whole idea is how do you reach the folks that have not correctly taken advantage of the funds that are available.”

Tedla says she is preparing for the new normal. She says eating Ethiopian food is family style dining and it is tradition to have families eat together in her restaurant. She says if her restaurant reopens she can only seat six together and practice social distancing. Until things change she will continue to practice less contact with her customers.

“Our customers can pay and order online when they come in,” Tedla said. “Or if they want us to bring it to their car - we started doing that - we never done that before.”

If you are a small business with no more than 25 employees and want to apply for this grant, click here.

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