MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — Mecklenburg County is offering a lifeline to small businesses struggling due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are now being accepted for the MeckCounty CARES Small Business Relief Grant.
The County has allocated $1.25 million of its CARES Act funding to continue the financial support of small businesses.
The grant can provide up to $25,000 for small businesses located in the six towns or unincorporated areas of Mecklenburg County that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.
Grant amounts depend upon business size and availability.
"We want to keep them thriving,” said Peter Zeiler, director of the Office of Economic Development for Mecklenburg County. “We want to keep them here for when the COVID pandemic is over, and we want to be able to keep people employed and making money for their families."
In order to apply, businesses must meet the following criteria:
- Have 50 employees or less
- Be in one of the six towns or unincorporated areas of Mecklenburg County
- Registered with the NC Secretary of State prior to Jan. 1, 2020
- Demonstrate that business was adversely impacted by COVID-19
According to a release, the funds may be used for working capital, lease payments, existing real owner-occupied commercial estate mortgage and equipment financing payments and covering payroll shortage.
Funds may not be used to pay off unrelated COVID-19 expenses.
Chef Jen Brulé, the owner of Davidson Ice House, said she plans to apply for this grant for her restaurant.
"I have about 25 employees, most of them are women, a lot of them are single moms, and I know I'll be able to keep them employed, and that's really important to me,” Brulé said. “I'm also a single mom so, you know, trying to keep everything together with the kids homeschooling and trying to keep, not fire anybody, is incredibly important, and this grant, if we get it, this grant will help a lot.”
Brulé said she received coronavirus relief money, including funds from the Paycheck Protection Program and the Economic Injury Disaster Loan, but the latter must be paid back over a span of 30 years.
"I've learned that I know how to adapt and pivot, like that's my strength which is great, and that's been inspiring and a sense of pride,” Brulé said. "Bbut then, then there's the financial side, and that's pretty terrifying."
Davidson Ice House has a loyal customer base, which Brulé said she is thankful for, but the restaurant has seen a dip in the number of people it serves over the last few months.
"We are pretty much breaking even, pretty much, almost, which is great and better than a lot of restaurants,” Brulé added. "So I feel very fortunate about that."
Brulé said she is hopeful that she’ll receive the grant money from Mecklenburg County. She would like to introduce a new concept to the business that is to-go food only. The grant money would serve to relieve some of the stress of operating a business in the pandemic.
“It would just mean a lot,” she said. “It would be very helpful, and hopefully, maybe I could even hire more employees with that money.”
Applications for the small business grant will be accepted until Nov. 27, 2020, or until funds have been dispersed.