On Wednesday, October 17th, the Charlotte Chapter of Slow Money NC held our second gathering at the Seventh Street Public Market in Uptown Charlotte, which will be our regular meeting place from now on. We sat around a couple of tables in the middle of the market and talked about ways to make the Charlotte chapter a success, and heard from three local projects that have completed Borrower Information forms through Slow Money NC.
Mary Roberts of Windcrest Farm Organics talked about needing a loan to pay for the upfront costs of a new well that will help her expand her business. She has already received approval for an USDA cost-share grant that will reimburse her the majority of the costs for the well, but first she has to come up with the funds to pay for it.
Melissa Myer of the Food to Die For catering company talked about her dream to start a not-for-profit, community-supported commercial kitchen that will allow start-up food businesses like caterers, food truck operators and home bakers to have affordable access to an inspected kitchen. There are commercial kitchens for rent in the Charlotte area, but the costs are still beyond the means of many start-ups, and a community-supported kitchen could also serve as an incubator and provide business coaching for these would-be food entrepreneurs.
Finally, John Lee of Sea Lavender Farm Aquaponics gave the group an update to his need for a new hoop house cover and some type of water heating system to keep his tilapia alive through the winter. Since John first presented his project at the August Gathering, some of the August attendees have contributed consulting assistance that will let John substantially lower the funds he needs to complete his project, and he has also gained potential customers for his fish through the exposure.
Slow Money Gatherings are beneficial for the project presenters even if they are not immediately successful at raising the funds they need, and they are great networking opportunities for all attendees, whether potential borrowers or lenders. Stay tuned for more updates about these Charlotte area projects, and make plans to attend the November Gathering on the 14th.