/ Big Events. Small Business.
Small businesses can stand significant impacts when faced with large-scale disasters, such as global pandemics, unexpected or severe weather conditions, political upheaval, or acts of terrorism. These big events can affect small businesses and their surrounding communities for weeks or months following the catalyst event.
This includes the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Whether you’re seeking information about the virus or in need of federal, state, or local support, these resources can help your small business respond effectively to support the economic health and well-being of the Charlotte business community.
Mecklenburg County: Safely Reopening Your Business – Toolkit and Guidelines for Retail Owners and Manager
- The COVID-19 Business Toolkit features printable signs, in both English and Spanish, for small businesses to display for their customers. The toolkit also includes information on eradication services in North and South Carolina and other materials from the Business Leaders Roundtable meetings – including meeting minutes and an outline on Gov. Roy Cooper’s three-phase approach to reopening North Carolina.
- This framework is meant to serve as a start to the conversation for returning more employees and businesses to work, rather than serving as a final, prescriptive set of answers or solutions.
- This program helps small businesses in and around Charlotte’s Center City innovate and adapt to the new economic realities caused by the pandemic and economic downturn. The fund will provide grants of up to $40,000. Priority will be shown to minority-, women-, and veteran-owned storefront businesses in Uptown, South End, Midtown, and Historic West End that create unique experiences. Click here to apply.
- Access to Capital Small Business Recovery Program: The program is a part of the City’s Open for Business Initiative and will distribute grants of either $10,000 or $25,000, depending on the number of employees. Click here to apply.
- City of Charlotte Micro Business Relief Fund: Grants and/or loans to small businesses for their most urgent needs, including operational costs like payroll, vendors, and rent. The application period for the Micro Business Relief Fund is now closed. Please continue to check back to this page for future updates.
- The COVID 19 Response Fund is a partnership comprising Mecklenburg County, the City of Charlotte, corporations, houses of faith, and others. The fund will issue grants to eligible nonprofits able to meet existing needs.
- LISC is assisting the small business community through multiple partnerships, including the Verizon Small Business Recovery Fund.
- In response to the economic impact of the current health crisis, Mecklenburg County has partnered with Carolina Small Business Development Fund to create a program designed to assist the county’s small businesses. As of April 16 at 6:00 PM, based on overwhelming demand and requested loan amounts, funding is no longer available for this program. However, applications can still be submitted and will be processed on a first-come, first-serve basis if additional funds become available.
- The ASC created this fund to help creative practitioners in Mecklenburg County recover by helping pay an unanticipated, emergency expense or by augmenting lost income due to the cancellation of a specific, scheduled gig or opportunity due to COVID-19.
- The local district office of the SBA is working nonstop to share information with local small businesses by hosting and participating in webinars/online forums. Click here for more information.
- The Women’s Business Center of North Carolina, in partnership with The Institute, launch a Small Diverse Business Emergency Relief Fund, providing up to $1,000 for rent, utilities, and other operational expenses for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. To help sponsor the fund, click here.
BUSINESS COUNSELING/CAPACITY BUILDING
- The Small Business Center has moved all of its programming and free one-on-one business counseling to a virtual platform, including hosting bi-weekly free webinars to help business owners gain skills to pivot during this time.
NC Pro Bono Resource Center
- The North Carolina Pro Bono Resource Center’s COVID-19 Small Business/Nonprofit Initiative will offer pro bono legal consultations to small businesses and nonprofits with fewer than 25 employees. These consultations will help small businesses and nonprofits with COVID-19 legal issues, such as the CARES Act relief. For more information, click here to view the PDF.
- Prospera activated their internal contingency plan to provide their in-language business seminars and individual consultations virtually instead of in-person.
- SCORE has moved all of its one-on-one business counseling sessions to phone calls or virtual meetings and converted many in-person seminars to webinars.
- The SBTDC has seen a large increase in call volume from business owners who are seeking one-on-one counseling and support.
- The Women’s Business Center has moved all seminars through June to online platforms, they have increased the frequency of their newsletter, and they have started hosting live interviews with key leaders weekly. They are seeing an increase in call volume from business owners seeking their free one-on-one counseling services.
LGBT Chamber is working with other minority chambers to support the business community through its new web portal and hotline.
- COVID-19 Support & Sustainability for Charlotte Small Business
- Small Business Support Hotline: 704-837-4050
The following websites seek to connect business owners with resources available:
- Charlotte Business Resources COVID-19 Resources
- Charlotte Regional Business Alliance COVID-19 Resource Portal
- City of Charlotte COVID-19 Small Business Resources
- Commissioner Vilma Leake’s Small Business Consortium COVID-19 Resources
NCI Fund: NC COVID-19 Rapid Recovery Loan
NC Department of Revenue: Penalty Relief
- Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) provides additional unemployment insurance benefits
- Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) provides benefits to eligible self-employed workers and independent contractors
- Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program provides additional benefits for those who have exhausted their state unemployment benefits
The North Carolina Hospitality Education Foundation: NC Restaurant Workers Relief Fund
NC Department of Health and Human Services
- COVID-19 Businesses and Employers
- Coronavirus Disease 2019 Response in NC
Economic Development Partnership NC: NC Business Relief Resources COVID-19
US Department of Treasury : CARES Act
Internal Revenue Service (IRS): Coronavirus Tax Relief
Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation: List of Funds and Resources for Restaurants and Workers Coping with the COVID-19 Emergency
James Beard Foundation: The James Beard Foundation Food and Beverage Industry Relief Fund
Sara Blakely Foundation: The Red Backpack Fund
Hello Alice: Covid-19 Business Resource Center and Grant
Facebook: Facebook Small Business Grants Program
Department of Labor (DOL)
Department of Homeland Security: Business Continuity Plan
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: Pandemic Preparedness in the Workplace
US Chamber of Commerce: Coronavirus Response Kit
Cyber + Infrastructure (CISA): Risk Management for COVID-19
Center for Disease Control (CDC): Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations – Community Facilities
Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response
World Health Organization (WHO): Get Your Workplace Ready for COVID-19
In addition to tourism-related disruptions, Charlotte is growing really big, really quickly. With this rapid growth, comes a wave of big events: national conventions, concerts, festivals, and sporting events. These gatherings can draw tens of thousands of visitors to the Charlotte region and have the potential to boost the local economy and aid in job creation. However, this surge in tourism can also lead to unexpected or unforeseen local events, which can disrupt small businesses in many ways.
As big events bring both opportunities and threats to small business, how do you best plan for big events that come to the city? You prepare.
Subscribe to local event calendars such as charlottesgotalot.com to stay in the know about upcoming planned events, such as the 2020 CIAA Basketball Tournament and the Republican National Convention. For planned events such as these, find out which neighborhoods, streets, and venues will be utilized. For emergency and disaster response information, follow Charlotte-Mecklenburg’s Emergency Management social media channels: @CharMeckEM and @charmeckem.
Prepare your business even further and attend seminars and workshops at the Small Business Center (SBC) at Central Piedmont.
Make a Plan
Once informed on local events, you can identify opportunities to leverage planned events to help boost your business. You can also research potential obstacles and steps you can take to minimize them. For unplanned events, establish a timeline and create a plan to maintain business continuity throughout various scenarios. Determine which, if any, business channels and resources may be affected, such as the storefront, potential customers, staff, and/or product availability.
Smart leaders have a business continuity plan in place for any large event that can pose a threat to the flow of operations – sporting events, festivals, political events, and hurricanes as examples.
Take this free assessment to see if your business is prepared.
Ready for more? Visit Open for Business to develop a free, customizable toolkit to help your small business plan for any type of business interruption and quickly re-open and resume operations following a disaster.
When creating your business continuity plan, remember to take into consideration the most important thing to execute such a plan – people! People who are prepared for changes and/or crises in business give that business the best chance of mitigating negative impacts and recovering quickly.
Make sure your employees, clients, and vendors are aware of upcoming planned events and potential unplanned events likely to disrupt business – specifically parts of the business that will affect them. For example, if a large sporting event is coming to town and road closures are expected during business hours, you may need to reschedule or relocate deliveries, meetings, and/or adjust employee work schedules. Be sure to share this information in a timely manner.
For unplanned events, be sure employees have the proper tools and training to promote emotionally intelligent behavior when under pressure.
To minimize risk and negative impacts of business disruption, monitor events as they occur and make adjustments to your continuity plan, as needed. Stay informed and understand the complete operating picture of big events as they unfold: What is happening? When and where is it happening? Who is it affecting?
You’ve achieved your dream of owning a small business – Don’t get caught unprepared.
Your response to events big and small can mean the difference between servicing the community or shutting down operations.
For more information, visit our Disaster Preparedness and Recovery page.