Partnership with City of Charlotte Supports Local Businesses
Giovy Buyers was raised in Ecuador by rose farmers, so it’s no surprise she became a successful florist as the owner of Southern Blossom in Charlotte. When the shelter-in-place order took effect in March, Giovy was forced to close her doors. Soon after, her supply chain broke down and all upcoming events canceled, resulting in the threat of permanent closure.
But thanks to a $10,000 grant from the City of Charlotte’s Access to Capital program, Giovy was able to keep her small business alive by paying rent as well as her vendors. Her story is just one of the 2,500 diverse small businesses that received financial help from the City’s grant program, which was administered by Foundation For The Carolinas, to distribute CARES Act funding. Local small businesses affected by the pandemic received grants totaling more than $30 million from the program.
Launched in June to help Charlotte-based businesses with 25 or fewer employees, the Access to Capital Small Business Recovery Program provided grants of either $10,000 or $25,000, giving local small businesses a lifeline during this challenging time. While FFTC typically distributes grants to nonprofits, its grantmaking expertise was sought to design and administer this effort to distribute funding rapidly and equitably to the small business community.
Thanks to the success of the initial program, in the fall, FFTC administered Open for Business efforts to distribute more than $13 million to hundreds of restaurants, caterers, bars and food trucks, as well as local hotels.
FFTC partnered with the YMCA of Greater Charlotte to provide staffing for the program, hiring YMCA employees that had been furloughed due to the pandemic. And YMCA branches throughout Charlotte served as in-person assistance sites for businesses to get help with submitting their applications.
Gracie Barra Charlotte
Brazilian-born Diogo Silva de Souza, a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, and his wife Thea moved to Charlotte in 2011 to pursue their dream of opening their martial arts academy, Gracie Barra Charlotte. The shelter-in-place order meant closing the doors of the academy and the loss of a community and lifestyle that improves lives physically, mentally and spiritually. With 70% of their income lost, a $10,000 grant will allow Diogo and Thea to pay the rent owed to the current landlord and relocate Grace Barra Charlotte to a smaller and more affordable location.
West End residents can count on Dogon Market for groceries, clothing and other essentials. “Helping the community with competitive prices drove me to be in this field,” said owner Tidiani Karambe.
However, the pandemic resulted in shorter operating hours, less foot traffic and expired inventory. A $10,000 grant will help Dogon Market pay bills and replenish inventory. “The application process was easy to understand,” said Tidiani.
Flavor Seed was created when Adam Jenkins was inspired to honor his late father’s dream of owning an organic spice company. The pandemic stunted the company’s growth when engaging directly with customers was no longer an option. Adam plans to use the $10,000 grant received from the Access to Capital program to purchase new inventory and increase Flavor Seed’s online marketing presence.