How to get a small business loan in Charlotte

Nick Sikiotis, left, 32 and his mother Joanna Sikiotis, 62, center, serve customers at the Green’s Lunch in Charlotte on Thursday. The Green’s Lunch, nestled in uptown Charlotte on West 4th Street, is a nearly 100-year old business that is struggling with labor shortages and higher prices on everything from ingredients to cutlery.

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Millions of dollars in grants are awarded to small businesses each year through federal, state and local government programs.

And a couple of local businesses were beneficiaries of funding to help their establishments.

Recently, two small businesses in Charlotte were recently awarded $75,000 grants to develop innovative technologies, according to a press release from the NC Department of Commerce.

Software company Amissa received a grant to develop an artificial intelligence platform to improve the safety and care of Alzheimer’s patients, and Smart Girls HQ, an education solutions provider, secured funding to build a game-based education platform that inspires young girls to pursue careers in STEM.

Although governments do not provide grants for starting a business, paying off debts or operational expenses, small business owners in Charlotte can apply for loan programs to help with costs, through resources found online and elsewhere such as Charlotte Business Resources.

Here are a few small business loan programs in the Charlotte area.

Meck Lending

Meck Lending is a loan program by the Carolina Small Business Development Fund, a nonprofit that supports small businesses in North Carolina, that offers favorable loans to small businesses in Mecklenburg County.

To qualify, businesses must have 50 or fewer full-time employees and annual sales of less than $2 million. Owners are also required to provide up to three years of personal tax returns, personal financial statements and a copy of their driver’s licenses.

Applicants must also present the following documents:

  • Up to three years of business tax returns

  • Year-to-date profit & loss statements

  • Year-to-date balance statement

  • Current business bank statement

  • Lease agreement or mortgage statement

  • One year of cash flow projections worksheet

To start the process, interested applicants can contact the Carolina Small Business Development Fund Business Solutions Team online or at 704-409-5900.

Small Business Mobilization Loan

The City of Charlotte offers Small Business Mobilization Loans of up to $75,000 to assist small business owners in Mecklenburg County in acquiring short-term, low-rate financing as they participate in city projects.

Eligible businesses must be certified as small business enterprises for a minimum of two consecutive years, according to the City of Charlotte website.

Applicants for this loan will need the following:

  • Two years of business tax returns

  • Two years of personal tax returns

  • A current personal financial statement showing a personal net worth of less than $750,000

  • Copy of eligible municipal contract

  • Use of funds statement

  • Two letters of recommendation from prime contractors

  • Two letters of recommendation from professional references

  • Written explanation of past credit issues if necessary

Applications for the loan can be completed online. Those who fail to qualify for the loan will be referred to other community resources for financial assistance, according to the city’s website.

U.S. Small Business Administration

The US Small Business Administration helps small businesses by offering many loans to help startups secure the funding they need, with lower down payments, flexible overhead requirements and no collateral needed for some.

Here are a few types of loans they offer:

  • 7(a) loans: A group of SBA loans that guarantee portions of the total among, cap interest rates and limit fees

  • 504 loans: Long-term, fixed-rate financing to purchase real estate, equipment, machinery or other assets

  • Microloans: Loans of $50,000 or less to help businesses expand

In order to get an SBA-backed loan, applicants can enter their zip code on Lender Match to find local lenders.

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Evan Moore is a service journalism reporter for the Charlotte Observer. He grew up in Denver, North Carolina, where he previously worked as a reporter for the Denver Citizen, and is a UNC Charlotte graduate.

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