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City of Charlotte and Charlotte Center City Partners Launch Third Round of Small Business Innovation Fund 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Oct. 26, 2020) – The City of Charlotte and Charlotte Center City Partners on Monday launched the online application for the third round of the Small Business Innovation Fund as part of the city’s Open for Business initiative. The Small Business Innovation Fund will distribute $1.5 million in federal CARES Act funding to small businesses within the city limits of Charlotte to spur innovation and adaptation to the new reality of economic life during COVID-19.

The application will go live at Noon today and will be available until Monday, November 9 at Noon.

“Throughout the challenges of 2020, it’s been very encouraging to see so many of our local businesses innovate and continue to move forward,” said Assistant City Manager and Economic Development Director Tracy Dodson. “The purpose of these grants is to give small businesses in Charlotte an opportunity to invest in critical areas that will allow them to innovate, grow, and succeed. The city is thrilled to be a part of this grant program as we continue to support local businesses and jobs here in our community.”

Demand is expected to exceed available funds and this is a competitive grant process. After the applications closes, the review committee will evaluate and prioritize applications for funding. Applicants will be notified of their status by December 30, 2020.

Small businesses across the City of Charlotte will be able to apply for grants from the Small Business Innovation Fund. Applicants will outline their adaptations and innovations that have or will enable them to advance their business. Applicants will detail costs and an ability to implement as well as agree to share their lessons so others may learn from their experience.

“The Small Business Innovation Fund is now supporting more than 70 businesses investing in their future during this pandemic, which is a true testament to our community’s future and resiliency,” said Michael J. Smith, president and CEO of Charlotte Center City Partners. “We are excited to expand this program across the city as we continue to innovate and outperform during this recovery.”

Grants will be prioritized for small businesses that create unique experiences for neighborhoods, including storefront businesses, distinctive products or services, and/or exceptional community engagement. Adaptations and innovations with the potential to replicate, scale, or foster collaboration will be prioritized in the review process.


  • Small businesses must have an existing physical location in the City of Charlotte, NC.
  • The business headquarters is located within the Charlotte region.
  • The business had 50 employees (full and part-time) or fewer as of March 1, 2020.
  • The business experienced adverse impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The business is willing to participate in interviews to document and share their lessons learned.

Priority given to:

  • Small businesses that create unique experiences for neighborhoods, including but not limited to storefront businesses, distinctive products or services, and/or exceptional community engagement.
  • Innovations and adaptations with potential to replicate and scale or create multi-sector collaborations.


  • Grants of either $20,000 or $40,000 per City of Charlotte business
    • Grants for joint applications from multiple City of Charlotte businesses may exceed $40,000 at the discretion of the Review Committee.
  • The grant funding must be used for an innovative investment to adapt to COVID and enable small businesses to be more resilient. Funds CAN NOT be used for day-to-day operating expenses like payroll, vendor payments, losses, utilities, rent, or mortgage.

Charlotte Center City Partners is administering this grant program in partnership with Foundation For The Carolinas, and will hold a webinar on Wednesday, October 28 at 9 a.m., and interested small business owners are encouraged to register online to participate. Business owners with questions about this grant can email with the subject line “Need Round 3 Insight.”

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About the City of Charlotte

The City of Charlotte provides services to more than 870,000 residents. The city's priorities are workforce and business development; transportation, planning and the environment; safe communities; and great neighborhoods. For the latest news and updates about city government, visit the citywide newsroom at, and follow @CLTgov on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


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