Beyond Open Awards $4.8 Million to 116 Diverse Local Small Businesses

For Tony Pham, the grant he received in Round 1 of the Beyond Open grant program not only helped save his business, it also gave him an opportunity to be more successful than before. “We were unable to open as a restaurant in our building without funding to fulfill necessary repairs,” said Pham, the owner of Saigon Night Restaurant and Karaoke Bar in Charlotte’s Central/Albemarle Corridor. “Now I’ve been able to fulfill the requirements needed to offer food in addition to the karaoke bar, and a place where different people come together, create connections and friendships in the community.”

The blue dots represent businesses that received grants in rounds one and two, with the corridors of Opportunity highlighted in red.

Beyond Open recently announced results of Round 2 of its grant program — administered by FFTC and aimed at diverse small-business owners in Charlotte’s Corridors of Opportunity, six underinvested areas defined by the City of Charlotte. In all, 116 small businesses received grants totaling $4.8 million. Established with a $20 million grant from Wells Fargo, the program has distributed a combined total of $10.7 million in its first two rounds, with a third grantmaking round scheduled for 2024.

The impact from Round 1 — distributed last summer — is already being felt. A recent survey showed 89 percent of Round 1 grantees reported hiring new employees, with 214 new jobs created. Round 1 grantees also reported 450 jobs preserved, and 73 percent reported an increase in projected revenue.

“Our community’s small businesses are critical change makers for economic mobility, employment and a range of positive community impacts,” said Tracy Russ, FFTC special advisor for civic initiatives, who is leading the Beyond Open program. “With the support of Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, FFTC is honored to help small businesses thrive as leaders within the Corridors of Opportunity and across the community through the Beyond Open program.”

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Timothy Hager is Vice President, Communications, at Foundation For The Carolinas.