Belmont - Homegrown Tools

Belmont, NC

Updated: 2022

Belmont paired an emergency small business loan program with the “Keep the Lights on in Belmont” program to drive residents to support local enterprises and raise funds for an emergency relief grant for downtown businesses.

Median Household Income2020$73,968
Poverty Rate 202014.5%
Proximity to Urban Center 14.4 miles to Charlotte, NC
Proximity to Interstate Highway 5.4 miles to I-85
Case Study Time Frame 2020
Municipal Budget 2022-202319 million
Data Source: US Census, American Community Survey
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The City of Belmont offered a total of $400,000 in small business emergency loans to locally owned, non-franchise businesses located within the Belmont corporate limits as part of the City’s “Keep the Lights on in Belmont” program. “Keep the Lights on in Belmont” is a relief effort by Downtown Belmont Development Association to support local small businesses.


Loans to eligible small businesses are awarded in amounts up to $10,000 to help cover operating expenses until state or federal assistance is available or until the economic crisis passes. The City of Belmont performed the loan administration itself and partnered with the Main Street Advisory Committee, an advisory committee to the City Council concerning the Main Street program and downtown development, as part of the oversight process. They created a process to review applicants and reward funds. So far, a quarter of the funds have been allocated. This $100,000 issuance allowed businesses to stay open during the pandemic.


What are the lessons learned from this story?

Be nimble and do not let the fear of criticism impact your work or response. Belmont acted quickly and initially got a negative response from the community on the framing of the “Keep the Lights On” program. Rather than letting this stop them, they addressed community concerns and shifted the program to be more successful. When responding to an emergency situation decisions must be made quickly and the first try won’t always work – but by starting with something you can quickly get community feedback and continue to iterate to make the program work and best serve the community’s needs. When handled well, crisis situations can strengthen partnerships and community cohesion.


Take advantage of outside resources for advice, especially during times of uncertainty. Research available resources in your state and community before an emergency hits so that when the time comes you know who to call on for help.