New program to provide $4 million to Raleigh small businesses

RALEIGH, NC (WNCN) — The city of Raleigh will launch a new program this month to provide financing and technical assistance to small businesses.

The effort is part of a partnership with the Carolinas Small Business Development Fund.

City leaders say the program, Oak City Biz Labswill use $4.2 million in America’s Rescue Plan Act funding received by the city.

Officials say small businesses can receive up to $30,000 in funding.

“While many small businesses have weathered the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, many continue to struggle to fully recover,” Raleigh Assistant City Manager Evan Raleigh said in a news release.

What are the requirements?

The money can be used for collateral improvements, debt payments, equipment or vehicle leases, specialized training or certification costs, technology and equipment purchases, and more.

Small businesses receiving the funds will be required to participate in technical assistance and training in areas such as capital, supply chain connectivity, business operations and marketing.

City leaders say it’s part of an effort to help small businesses achieve their long-term goals.

“Many of our small businesses are still struggling with the impact of COVID-19, and as our economic landscape changes, it is increasingly important to equip businesses not only with the tools needed to recover, but also the tools needed to be resilient said CEO Kevin Dick with =Carolina Small Business Development Fund.

Businesses that need more funding than the maximum grant level also have the option of working with the Carolinas Small Business Development Fund.

This additional technical assistance will help small businesses obtain affordable loans in addition to grants, according to a release. Not required as part of the grant application.

Will my business qualify?

To qualify for funding, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Must be a for profit business located in Raleigh, NC
  • The business must be operational from March 1, 2019
  • Annual revenue cannot exceed $5 million based on the most recent business tax returns
  • The business must show at least a 25% gross reduction in revenue OR the business must show at least a 15% gross reduction in revenue AND has had to suspend operations due to COVID-19 for at least 60 days
    • To demonstrate a gross income deduction: Compare the 2020 or 2021 business tax return, if filed, with the 2019 tax return as a baseline.
  • The business must not have active bankruptcies or tax liens
    • Note: for sole proprietorships or general partnerships, there cannot be an active personal bankruptcy or any active business bankruptcy.
  • Franchises are eligible if the franchisor is independently and locally owned
  • The business must have 50 employees or fewer
    • Enterprises jointly owned with other enterprises, with a total of 50 employees or less
  • Applicant may not be delinquent on North Carolina state income taxes
  • The applicant cannot owe any taxes due to the City of Raleigh

Ineligible businesses include:

  • Non-profit organizations
  • Real estate investment companies
  • Lobbyists
  • Businesses that previously received funding through the City of Raleigh Small Business Assistance Fund

You can find the official list of eligibility requirements here.

To learn more, you can too register for a virtual information session scheduled for Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. via Zoom.

City leaders say applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis until all funds are exhausted.

The Oak City Biz Labs program is set to launch on July 15.

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