Charlotte small businesses reeling from the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus have more than federal program options for financial aid.

The city of Charlotte on Wednesday announced it will begin accepting applications for the Micro Business Relief Fund at noon May 4. The fund will provide up to $10,000 to 100 businesses with five or fewer employees, according to a press release.

The funding is part of the $1-million economic relief package approved this month by Charlotte City Council.

The loans, backed by federal Community Development Block Grant money, help micro-businesses in “opportunity corridors,” such as Beatties Ford Road and Eastland. City leaders hope to rejuvenate those areas through economic development.

“As we recover from the financial impacts of COVID-19, we need all sectors of our business community to grow and thrive, and this relief fund is one of the ways to make it happen,” said Mayor Vi Lyles.

Businesses must be able to provide the most recent two years of documentation establishing income as required by the grant regulations. The city’s Economic Development members and Local Initiatives Support Corp. staff will score applications.

The grants may be applied to urgent needs, such as payroll, rent and vendor/debt costs, the release said. Applications are available online at Local Initiatives Support Corp.


Also this week, Withco, a small business services and technology consulting company, announced it is offering an interest-free loan program called RISEwithco to 50 small businesses in Charlotte to help recover from COVID-19.

The loans from $2,000 to $20,000 are zero-interest for two years, according to a company press release. The program also includes one-on-one access to a network of small business, finance and real estate experts.

Withco founder and CEO Kevin Song said big businesses have advantageous access to marketing, resources, capital and relationships with government, to come out of such a crisis.

“We’re trying to provide the same benefits to small business owners while honoring things that matter to them,” Song said. “It’s what’s going to make and preserve Charlotte in the grand scheme of things.”

The program is open to any business that operates primarily in North Carolina and the majority of the business is owned by residents of North Carolina, according to the company website.

The criteria for selecting recipients include financial health, community involvement and growth opportunity. The deadline to apply is 5 p.m. May 10 at Applicants will be notified by June 1.

Withco, which opened last year and is based in Charlotte and Brooklyn, N.Y., pledged $150,000 to the program to support small businesses.

The inspiration for Song’s company has an emotional foundation. His parents lost their small Brooklyn grocery store when the landlord doubled the rent.

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