By David Pendered
Atlanta is poised to begin providing grants to businesses along Martin Luther King Jr. Drive corridor, presuming the Atlanta City Council on Monday votes to provide $600,000 that will increase the grant fund to $900,000.
There’s little doubt the council will approve the proposal. It is listed with a bundle of unrelated legislation that the council intends to approve by a single vote.
The money is to come from the tax allocation district created to induce development along Howell Parkway and the MLK corridor.
Ernestine Garey, Invest Atlanta’s executive vice president and COO, said at the Nov. 16 meeting of the council’s Finance Committee that Invest Atlanta has already provided $300,000 to create an economic opportunity fund to induce development in the MLK corridor. The legislation pending before the council Monday provides an additional $600,000.
Garey said a portion of the grant fund will be targeted to attract retail shops near MARTA’s Hamilton E. Holmes Station. The goal is to bolster activity on the east side of the station, she said.
Another portion of the grant fund will be targeted at “quick, impactful improvements, Garey said. These could be fascade improvements, equipment purchases, and inventory.
In response to a question from committee Chair Alex Wan, Garey said Invest Atlanta will inform the community of the availability of funds through its routine outreach programs. Representatives of Invest Atlanta have discussed the program with the merchants association who represent the corridor, she said.
Invest Atlanta’s website also has a page that describes the program, provides a way to apply for a grant, and says requests will get a response within 48 hours.
The Martin Luther King Jr. Drive Innovation Corridor is a city initiative that aims to revitalize a major east-west roadway through the city that is named for one of Atlanta’s most famous leaders.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said as much in August.
“As the birthplace of Dr. King, the street bearing his name should and will be one of the most attractive and important streets in our city,” Reed said in an Aug. 2 statement.
That statement announced that Atlanta had won a $10 million federal grant to improve the MLK corridor.
Reed said in August that his administration intended to use $1 million of a $10 million TIGER grant for the purpose of attracting, retaining, and bolstering small businesses that are located along the MLK corridor.
During a press conference on Aug. 8, Reed said the $1 million would be used to fund innovation grants. These grants are intended to bolster and retain businesses in the corridor, and to attract entrepreneurs to open shop in the corridor.
During the press conference, Reed said the innovation grants will be provided in sums ranging from $25,000 to $250,000.
“When folks talk about Auburn Avenue and some of Atlanta’s older neighborhoods, they talk about how important it was to have smaller businesses cited along corridors,” Reed said.
“We have a moment, because of the $10 million investment that was made by the federal government, to take a small portion of that and invest in creating the next generation of entrepreneurs,” Reed said.