RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — The City of Raleigh will launch a new program this month to provide funding and technical assistance to small businesses.

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

City leaders say the program, Oak City Biz Labs, will use $4.2 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding received by the city.

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

“While many small businesses have been able to weather the worst of the impacts from 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 enhancements, debt repayments, equipment or vehicle leasing, specialized training or certification expenses, technology and equipment purchases, and more. 

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

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

“Many of our small businesses are still grappling with the impact of COVID-19, and as our economic landscape is changing, it’s increasingly important to equip businesses with not just tools needed for recovery, but the tools needed for resilience,” said CEO Kevin Dick with the =Carolina Small Business Development Fund. 

Businesses that need more funding than the maximum grant level also have the option to work with the Carolina Small Business Development Fund.

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

Will my business qualify?

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

  • Must be a for-profit business located in Raleigh, North Carolina
  • The business must have been operating since March 1, 2019
  • Annual revenues cannot exceed $5 million based on the most recent business tax returns
  • Business must show at least a 25% gross revenue deduction OR the business must show at least a 15% gross revenue deduction AND had to suspend operations due to COVID-19 for at least 60 days
    • To demonstrate gross revenue deduction: compare 2020 business tax return, or 2021 if filed, with the 2019 tax return as a baseline.
  • Business must not have any active bankruptcies or tax liens
    • Note: for sole proprietorship or general partnership businesses, there can be no active personal bankruptcy or any active business bankruptcy.
  • Franchises are eligible if the franchisor is independent and locally owned
  • Business must have 50 employees or fewer
    • Businesses under common ownership with other businesses, with combined 50 employees or fewer
  • Applicant cannot be delinquent on North Carolina State income taxes
  • Applicant cannot owe outstanding taxes to the City of Raleigh

Ineligible businesses include:

  • Nonprofits
  • Real estate investment firms
  • Lobbyists
  • Businesses that previously received funding through the City of Raleigh Small Business Relief Fund

You can find the official list of eligibility requirements here.

To learn more, you can also register for a virtual info 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 used up.

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