On September 28, 2021, the Duke Energy Foundation distributed $750,000 in economic resilience grants to help local businesses across North Carolina—from restaurants to retailers—adapt to the unprecedented challenges caused by the pandemic.
The total represents a 50% increase over the $500,000 in funding announced in April due to the breadth and quality of the funding applications. As a result, the Hometown Revitalization grant program will now support 30 communities throughout the state rather than the original 20 planned at the program’s inception.
“After our success in supporting the Downtown Raleigh Alliance, which was the model for this program, we knew that a series of targeted grants could do wonders to help North Carolina businesses and storefronts recover,” said Stephen De May, Duke Energy’s North Carolina president.
“We were astounded by the number and quality of the applications, so we decided to increase the foundation’s commitment and help even more downtown communities bounce back,” he added.
The following counties had winning projects: Johnston, Mecklenburg, Davie, Beaufort, Wilkes, Brunswick, Rockingham, Henderson, Wake, Guilford, Graham, Jones, Scotland, Lincoln, Mitchell, Cherokee, Polk, Lenoir, Rockingham, Durham, Rutherford, Rowan, Lee, Surry, Richmond, Person, Duplin, New Hanover and Warren.
Hometown Revitalization grants were awarded to the following 30 community organizations:
• Alexander County Economic Development Corp.
• Clayton Chamber Foundation
• Coalicion Latinoamericana
• Davie Community Foundation
• Downtown Washington on the Waterfront
• Downtown North Wilkesboro Partnership
• Downtown Southport
• Eden Downtown Development
• Friends of Downtown Hendersonville
• Fuquay-Varina Downtown Association
• Gibsonville Garden Railroad
• Graham Revitalization Economic Action Team (Great)
• Jones County Committee of 100
• Laurinburg Downtown Advisory Committee
• Lincoln Economic Development Association
• Mitchell County Development Foundation
• Nantahala Health Foundation
• Polk County Chamber Foundation
• Pride of Kinston
• Reidsville Downtown Corp.
• Renaissance Downtown Durham
• Rutherford Town Revitalization
• Salisbury Community Development Corp.
• Sanford-Lee County Partnership for Prosperity Foundation
• Surry County Economic Development Foundation
• United Way of Richmond County
• Uptown Roxboro Group
• Wallace Revitalization Association
• Wilmington Downtown
• Working Landscapes Alexander
Each community was awarded $25,000 through a partnership with these local 501(c)(3)-administering nonprofits. The administering entity will establish a small-business support microgrant program to deploy the funding within their local community. Microgrants may range from $500 to $2,500 per individual business.
The Hometown Revitalization grant program was inspired by a successful collaboration between the Downtown Raleigh Alliance and Duke Energy that provided nearly 100 grants to downtown Raleigh storefronts. The grants allowed the establishments the opportunity to create outdoor seating and serving opportunities, develop e-commerce websites, repair window fronts, and upgrade health and safety elements.
Nicole Thompson, president and CEO of Downtown Durham, anticipates a similar impact in her community. “Downtown Durham small businesses have weathered an extremely challenging few years, from an explosion that damaged multiple businesses in the Brightleaf District to the economic devastation brought on by the pandemic,” she said.
“The Duke Energy Hometown Revitalization Grant program will provide vital support and help to strengthen these small businesses as they recover, rebound and reinvent to succeed in this new economy,” she added.
In Charlotte, the strongest application was put forth by the Latin American Coalition. “Here in Charlotte, many Latino small businesses were started by immigrants or the children of immigrants,” said Jose Hernandez-Paris, executive director of the Coalition.
“They are hard-working folks who need help recovering from the effect of the pandemic. The Hometown Revitalization Grant from Duke Energy will provide small-business owners a lifeline to stabilizing their business as we continue to recover. We are grateful for the support from Duke Energy and their commitment to our community, our families and to our small businesses,” he concluded.
North Carolina small businesses interested in learning about how the program will be rolled out in their communities should inquire with the local nonprofit administering the microgrants.
Photo courtesy of Duke Energy Foundation.