Minority Business Enterprise program preparing for second grant round – Winston-Salem Journal

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The Minority Business Enterprise program, coordinated by Greater Winston-Salem Inc., is preparing for its second round of grant applications for Black- and Hispanic-owned local small businesses.

The grant program is managed by the Entrepreneurial Advisory Board, consisting of Black and Latino business leaders in Forsyth County. Greater Winston-Salem Inc. provides financial oversight and organizational structure.

Grants up to $25,000 are provided. The program announced in December its first round of grants that were a combined $229,000 for 21 recipients.

“Although the second round of the grant window is not finalized yet, it is expected to be opened in October,” chamber spokeswoman Ethanie Good said last week.

The $1.25 million fund was launched in October 2020 with designs to assist with business success, job retention and job creation for Black- and Latino-owned businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To be eligible, a business must have Black or Hispanic owners and have a maximum of $1 million in annual gross sales. Businesses have to have been started on or before Jan. 1, 2020, and can range from having one to 25 employees.

The grants can be used for salaries, wages, lease payments, working capital or capital improvements.

Organizers said the program offers an equitable resource for Black- and Hispanic-owned businesses that may be more susceptible to the economic impact of the pandemic, and/or face more barriers to obtaining other sources of grants, loans and relief funding.

The first-round recipients are: A Step Above Cleaning Service LLC; All Services LLC; DM Designs and Fabrics; EMACK Consulting LLC; Embrace Inc.; First Class Bus Tours & Travel Services Inc.; Gifted Hands Salon Spa; Innovation Health Care Solutions Enterprise Inc.; Jazmine Tienda Mexicana Inc.; Long’s Cleaning Service; LRS Garage; Motto Athletics LLC; Occupational Testing Solutions; Sherman Logistic LLC; Sherman’s Drop In Inc.; Simply Soul LLC; Tate Consulting TC LLC; The Feelings Co.; The Sweet Truth Bakery and Catering; Total Enterprice Majorel LLC; and Winston-Salem Tees.

Greater Winston-Salem highlighted some of the grant recipients, such as The Feelings Co., run by Karen Cuthrell, which develops social-emotional learning tools for children.

“As school leaders continue to adapt, adjust, and survive COVID-19, this grant allows us to retain local individuals and companies as employees and contractors,” Cuthrell said in a statement. “The grant will also allow us to ramp up our marketing and sales” for 2021-22 school year.

Martin Majorel owns Total Enterprice Majorel, which provides bookkeeping and tax and office management services for small businesses.

“We’ve seen good clients that have had to stretch payments because of the impact of the pandemic on their own companies,” Marjorel said in a statement.

“This grant will allow me to extend grace periods and retain clients, giving them more flexibility to operate,” says Majorel.

Current donors include: Allegacy Federal Credit Union; The Budd Group; Alan and Lisa Caldwell; Cook Medical; Duke Energy; Flow Automotive; Flow Lexus; Front Street Capital; Drew and Kelley Hancock; Javara; Modern Automotive; David Mounts; David Neill; Novant Health Inc.; the Prim Family Foundation; Reynolds American Inc.; Ben Sutton Jr.; the Truist Charitable Fund; Claire and Randall Tuttle; Wake Forest Baptist Health; Wake Forest University; Wells Fargo & Co.; Wells Fargo Foundation, John Whitaker; and Whitaker Park Development Authority.

In another initiative, the Winston-Salem Foundation is helping a Greensboro nonprofit lender expand its reach into Forsyth with a $100,000 investment into Piedmont Business Capital for loans to minority-owned businesses here.

The foundation said its investment is the first from its new Inclusive Economy Portfolio, a “mission-aligned” investment fund created to support “local businesses and organizations working for social change.”

Wilson Lester, executive director of Piedmont Business Capital, said his nonprofit lending agency can make loans that other financial institutions might not make.

“We are interested in deploying capital to businesses that have been marginalized by the local banks,” Lester said.

“We color outside the box on local lending. We accept some things that some financial institutions may not — organizations that may not have fit the traditional mold.”

Piedmont Business Capital was formerly called the Greensboro Community Development Fund, but Lester said the new name speaks to the wider footprint the nonprofit lender is trying to establish.

In Greensboro, Lester said, the nonprofit has a portfolio of more than 110 companies with $1.6 million in loans.

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@rcraverWSJ