Local businesses get boost through grant program

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Katherine McCladdie receives a grant from Jim Kelly and Shane Caldwell of Fiserv. Also pictured are Drew Starke of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Central Florida and NASCAR driver Ross Chastain.

PHOTOS BY DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

Two local Black-owned businesses got a much-needed boost this month when a provider of financial services technology, awarded with $10,000 grants.

Kale Café Juice Bar & Vegan Cuisine, at 116 N. Beach St., Daytona Beach, and Katherine’s Kreations Floral & Event Design Boutique, at 290 S. Nova Road, in South Daytona, were presented with the grants on Feb. 12.

Fiserv presented the grants through its Back2Business program, which is designed to provide $50 million in assistance to minority-owned small businesses that have been negatively affected by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“We believe it’s important to give back to communities we operate in. We want to make sure minority-owned businesses are getting the support they need,” said Jim Kelly, Fiserv’s senior vice president of Enterprise Business Continuity.

Giving back

Fiserv, formerly First Data, is a leading provider of payments and financial services technology solutions. The company serves millions of small businesses through its point-of sale (POS) platform.

“We’re made up of many small businesses across the country. When the pandemic hit, we knew that we had to give back some way. Giving back is more than just the money. It is the resources, grants, PPE equipment and time. Being able to do this is awesome,” expressed Shane Caldwell, Fiserv’s vice president of Business Development & Strategy.

The businesses that received the grant are thankful for the assistance.

“We’ve had to tighten our business model. The money will definitely help us and be put to good use,” said Omar Brown, who owns Kale Café with his wife, Camille.

Omar and Camille Brown were awarded a $10,000 grant for their business. Kale Café specializes in health food.

PHOTOS BY DUANE C. FERNANDEZ SR./HARDNOTTSPHOTOGRAPHY.COM

Not back to normal

Katherine McCladdie, owner of Katherine’s Kreations, stated, “The money will definitely help us sustain. It will help us with expenses and marketing for the future.”

Like most businesses, these two have been directly hit by COVID-19.

“The pandemic has severely hit our business going back to when we had to go mandatory lockdown and quarantine. All my events dried up. Things haven’t got back to normal yet,” emphasized McCladdie.

Omar Brown reiterated, “The pandemic has really hit us. Our sales dropped 50%. It was a shock. We have had to lay off employees and curtail hours. It was initially tough.”

Kale Café specializes in health food with vegan and vegetarian offerings.

“It’s caught on quite a bit. We started in 2012. Initially, the vegan movement wasn’t as broad as it is now. We started as a non-profit. The community has really stepped up and helped us out when we came with this business. We’ve opened a new dining room,” responded Brown.

Katherine’s Kreation is more than just a florist shop. Along with floral designs, it’s a full scale decorating and coordinating company. It specializes in weddings, birthday parties, baby showers, receptions and galas.

“Things are slow now, but they were progressing. I am also doing gardening design,’’ McCladdie noted.

Chastain participates

Driver Ross Chastain, who drives the No. 42 Clover Chevrolet Camero ZL1 1LE, finished
seventh in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 14.

Two days earlier, he was at the presentation of the grants. Fiserv sponsors his car, which is owned by Chip Ganassi Racing.

Chastain is also an eighth-generation watermelon farmer.

“I’ve been racing here for 10 years and I’ve drove past these places. Meeting these business owners is incredible. Their businesses are their dreams,” he said.

“There have been setbacks, but this program helps take their dream to the next level. They are doing what they love to do. My family does the same thing with our family business.”

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