Invest Atlanta offering loans to small businesses as part of city’s response to COVID-19
By Maria Saporta
Invest Atlanta has created a new $1.5 million loan fund for small businesses that have been disrupted by the new Coronavirus pandemic.
The purpose of the Business Continuity Loan Fund is to provide economic assistance to ensure the viability of city businesses and to help sustain employment.
The fund will offer small businesses zero-interest loans to address a lack of working capital and cash flows as a result of reduced consumer demand, the ability to fulfill product or service orders and other economic conditions.
According to Fulton County Commissioner Lee Morris, the loan fund will provide 0 percent interest, a six to 12-month deferment and a five-year payment term. Loans will range from $5,000 to $30,000. Applicants can apply through this link.
“Our businesses and residents are suffering like I’ve never seen in my 20 years of public service,” said Dawn Arnold, Invest Atlanta’s executive vice president and chief operating officer. “While we know the $1.5 million is not nearly enough, it’s a good start.”
Arnold also pointed to the recently-released report from the Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative – which outlines programs aimed at stabilizing small businesses in the Atlanta area.
“While these programs are not administered by Invest Atlanta, I know the magnitude of assistance needed for business is great and thought I’d pass this information along to you all and ask that you send to your networks,” Arnold wrote in an email.
The Atlanta Wealth Building Initiative did a survey of 112 small business. Of those, 74 percent were “not financially prepared for this crisis;” and 87 percent had experience sluggish sales in the past two weeks.
“Businesses are mostly concerned with a loss of revenue through a reduction of in-store sales or client payments,” the report stated. “Forty-one percent of businesses can financially maintain for three to four weeks.”
The Initiative also provided a list of resources of programs that can offer assistance to small business.
The new Invest Atlanta loan fund is one of several new initiatives that Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms issued an executive order to help Atlantans respond to COVID-19, the specific strain of the Coronavirus that has disrupted Atlanta’s normal business and social interactions.
Bottoms ordered a total of $7 million from the city’s general fund to support emergency assistance during the pandemic.
“Our communities are in need of help and we are listening,” Bottoms said in a press release. “This is one step to provide relief and we are going to continue to look for opportunities to help those in need as we go through this together.”
In addition to the small business loan program, the executive order includes $1 million to provide emergency assistance to child food programs; $1 million in emergency assistance to senior food programs; $1 million to provide emergency assistance to homeless preparedness; $1 million for the purchase of technology to support the city’s telework deployment for non-essential staff; and $1.5 million to assist the “city’s partners in the financial industry” as a way to help hourly wage earners employed by businesses engaged with the city.
The city also will seek reimbursement from state and federal governments, and it will identify ways to leverage Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.