RETOOLNC 3.0 Online Info Session

The state of NC has reopened the RETOOLNC Grant Program for a third round of funding for certified historically underutilized businesses (HUB) and disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) firms impacted by COVID-19.

The webinar covers the eligibility requirements, what you will need to complete the application, and how to apply through the organizations that are managing the grant process. Attendees will have opportunity to ask questions about the grant program.

Webinar access details can be found in the Online Event Page.

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How were minority and women owned small businesses assisted by the National Institute of Minority Economic Development during the pandemic?

The North Carolina Small Business Impact Grant Program, RETOOLNC, is an initiative created by Governor Roy Cooper which addresses measures and supports efforts to aid communities of color disproportionately impacted by the pandemic through targeted lending programs such as Institute Capital.

In a poll conducted by the Research, Policy, & Impact Center, RETOOLNC grant recipients were asked how they used funds they received during the pandemic. A total of 565 emails were sent to 2020/2021 RETOOLNC recipients, 143 surveys were completed for a final response rate of 25.9% (omitting incorrect email addresses). The majority of respondents to this survey represented small businesses with only 1-5 employees (67.6%) or sole proprietor businesses (14.1%). Most (81.4%) were minority owned and half (53.1%) were woman-owned.

Three-fifths (60.6%) of RetoolNC grant recipients who responded to our survey indicated that they used the funds to pay salaries and retain existing employees during the pandemic. 80.7% indicated that they used funds to grow their business. This included: adding employees (23.6%), buying new equipment (39.3%), improving web presence (35.0%), and ‘other’ upgrades (7.9%). Another fifth (20.4%) of respondents said that funds were used for training purposes to pivot business services. Finally, just 2.1% said they used the funding to provide incentives to employees. Other uses included:

  • Used funds to hire office 365 Cybersecurity professional.
  • Print marketing, online marketing targeted towards brides, an email marketing course, social media ads and boosted social posts
  • Invested in promotion of my company to attract new business for the business lost during the pandemic through promotional products, mailings, other contacts and introductions and rewards. Also used these methods to try and retain the current client base.
  • I used to repair trucks
  • I used funds to maintain operations during the pandemic to provide working capital and pay recurring expenses like rent, utilities and telephone.
  • I used funds to enroll in new courses and classes as well as pay down some debt.
  • I invested in training and education to expand our business.
  • I franchised my company.
  • Contractors were added to help further business growth and systems were put in place to attain process efficiency.

The infographic below summarizes some of the other results of this survey:

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Poll Shows Rate Increase Adds Additional Financial Burden on Women and Minority Owned Small Business

Last Wednesday (5/3/22), the Federal Reserve raised interest rates by a half percentage point, the largest rate increase since 2000. The Fed previously raised its rate a quarter percentage point in March. The Fed rate increases are meant to lower inflation while not slow down the economy so much that it tips into recession.

However, rising interest rates mean the cost of capital goes up. Increased interest rates mean higher payments for credit cardholders and new mortgages. The average interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage rose to 5.55%, the highest it has been in more than a decade.

Small businesses will be impacted by the higher cost of capital. Short-term rates in particular will jump higher. Interest rates for business lines of credit and other variable-rate loans will increase making payments more expensive. This increased cost may cause businesses to halt recovery and growth.

Women-owned or Minority-owned Business Enterprises (WMBE) were polled by the Research, Policy, and Impact Center at the National Institute of Minority Economic Development about the potential impact of this rate increase.

Respondents indicated that there would be a ‘cooling off’ of business activities as a result of the increased cost of capital. More than half (58.1%) said they would delay planned business expansion and 54.8% said they would put off purchasing new equipment.

One small business owner said, “This rate increase will negatively affect our business throughout our production/supply chain ladder. As we are already battling supply shortages and paying higher prices for materials, this rate increase will only add to the struggle.

Two-fifths (41.9%) of respondents would cut other business services causing ripples in the Business-to-Business (B2B) marketplace.

An WMBE explained, “As a small business, our line of credit is tied to the prime lending rate. The results of the increase will add to our operating costs which have already increased substantially due to inflation, the labor shortage therefore affecting our bottom line. There has been a heavy pattern of slow pay from general contractors to small business contractors over the last few years which will result in many small business subcontractors going out of business.”

This rate hike comes just as many WMBEs were beginning to recover from the economic fallout of the pandemic. During the pandemic, Governor Cooper established the Small Business Impact Grant Program (RETOOLNC) program to help certified Historically Underutilized Businesses (HUB) and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) recover from unexpected adjustments to their business. Grants of up to $25,000 were awarded to certified small, underutilized businesses to help them with pivotal industry business changes needed during the pandemic.

One RETOOLNC recipient explains, “A rate increase will definitely be disastrous for minority and women owned small businesses. Especially when we are just beginning to see our business come back to normalcy.  We did not have enough income last year to feed our families. It was thanks to loans and grants that we received that we could survive.”

Small businesses have been feeling the uptick in inflation. According to the Federal Reserve, inflation reached 6.6% last month, the highest point in four decades.

WMBEs, already struggling to remain profitable as fuel prices, supplies, and services costs increase, feel the coming rate hike will cause further uncertainty: “The surge in cost has affected me with travel due to rising fuel cost necessary to reach my customer, then the rise in cost for meals while on the road and meals necessary for PR with customers. Pricing jobs are very concerning because as a reseller, I cannot control rising cost for raw materials and shipping; these cost are controlled by my large business suppliers.  A job that may take six months to a year to complete, will now most likely consist of an unforeseen price increase in materials.  When this happens, it is usually a loss from the profit for the small business.”

The rate hike will also impact employees of WMBEs. More than a third (38.7%) of respondents to our poll indicated that they will be forced to reduce employee hours and 35.5% said they would not add new employees that were planned. Others said that they may have to postpone staff training (12.9%) and a few may even lay-off or furlough workers (9.7%).

Customers and clients of small businesses will also be impacted as they pass on the higher costs. Says one WMBE, “Any increases will have to be passed on to my customers and I’m not quite sure how receptive they will be to that news. It just makes everything increase. Costs of equipment, payroll increases, and we are still in the middle of supply chain issues that have a lot of my business in a holding pattern for equipment to complete jobs. So, profitability does not exist right now. The worst part of it all is I can’t predict when this will turn around.”

Download a printable version of this page: HERE

Learn to Lead: 7 Leadership Failures and How to Overcome Them

Hosted by The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte.

Topic: Learn to Lead: 7 Leadership Failures and How to Overcome Them

Great leaders do not become great leaders over night. In her work with business leaders, Julie has found that leaders often go through several of these 7 critical failures that land them between a rock and a hard place. In this workshop, Julie will share each of these critical failures, how to recognize them, overcome each one, and prevent those failures from happening again.

If you’re a business owner this session and series is for you! Learning to lead as a business owner will help you drive your team and your business forward.

Speaker(s): Julie Bee

Click here to register.

 

5 Key Steps to Starting and Designing Your Business

Hosted by The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte.

Topic: 5 Key Steps to Starting and Designing Your Business

Are you an entrepreneur thinking of starting a business or are you already in business and not sure if you have completed all the necessary steps to be an established entity or successful business? This workshop is designed to help entrepreneurs with start-ups and established businesses to examine the feasibility of their small business idea in the current market, examine entrepreneur readiness, business plan development, entity formation, managing risk, and various ways to fund or bootstrap the business.

Speaker(s): WBCC

Click here to register.

 

Building Your Online Presence

Hosted by The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte.

Topic: Building Your Online Presence

Part 1: Showing up when customers are searching online is more important than ever. Ensure customers can find accurate, updated information about your local business on Google Search and Google Maps, no matter which device they use. In this workshop, you will learn how to create and manage a Google business profile from start to finish.

In this session we’ll show you how to:
• Create or claim your Business Profile on Google
• Manage your business info across Google Search and Maps
• Use Google My Business to connect with potential customer

Part 2: Discover how to create a search-friendly website that drives user action and supports their goals. Whether launching a new website or sprucing up an old one, this workshop will help.

Speaker(s): Linda Hughes

Click here to register.

5 Key Steps to Starting and Designing Your Business

Hosted by The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte.

Topic: 5 Key Steps to Starting and Designing Your Business

Are you an entrepreneur thinking of starting a business or are you already in business and not sure if you have completed all the necessary steps to be an established entity or successful business? This workshop is designed to help entrepreneurs with start-ups and established businesses to examine the feasibility of their small business idea in the current market, examine entrepreneur readiness, business plan development, entity formation, managing risk, and various ways to fund or bootstrap the business.

Speaker(s): WBCC

Click here to register.

Charlotte MED Week 2021

Hosted by The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte.

Topic: Charlotte MED Week 2021

Engage, Elevate, Empower

Charlotte MED Week 2021 | October 11-14, 2021

Join business, government, and community leaders at the eleventh annual Charlotte Minority Enterprise Development (MED) Week celebration honoring outstanding minority, women-owned and small businesses and the agencies and individuals who support a diverse marketplace. We will have virtual professional development workshops with the business connections expo and awards and recognition celebration occurring in person. All events will commemorate the achievements of minority, women and small entrepreneurs and affirm our community’s commitment to the principle of equal opportunity.

All virtual events will be hosted on the Whova Event App. Please, download directly from the Apple Store or Google Play on your phone or device.

No cost to attend workshops, Career Fair or Expo. Pre-registration is required for all events.

Speaker(s): Various

Click here to register.

 

You Need Help…Need To Hire…But Short On Cash?

Hosted by The Women’s Business Center of Charlotte.

Topic: You Need Help…Need To Hire…But Short On Cash?

NC DOL will provide your organization with information and guidance that will help to gain and maintain compliance with applicable labor laws; training on compliance requirements, employer responsibilities, and application of applicable laws; and cover topics related to Overtime requirements, minimum wage requirements, youth employment, record-keeping requirements, wage deductions, exemptions, and employer-employee relationships.

Charlotte Works helps businesses fill new positions and also helps to upskill existing employees through education and skills training opportunities. The UpSkill Charlotte training grant helps businesses make a difference in their bottom line by addressing employees’ skills gaps.

Speaker(s): Christina Morales-Bebrin (NC DOL) /  Andrew Davila (Charlotte Works)

Click here to register.

How to Become SWAM Certified

Topic: Government Contracting

This webinar will be delivered by the Commonwealth’s Small Business and Supplier Diversity Office. The presentation will include the benefits of becoming a certified – Small, Women-owned and Minority business yet moreover it will include an overview of the process for doing so.

Fee: No Cost