Details roll out for recovery fund to aid businesses hurt by Atlanta water crisis


Small businesses forced to shut their doors because of Atlanta’s water crisis could be eligible for thousands of dollars in city recovery funds. (Photo by Dyana Bagby)

Small businesses that saw their bottom lines evaporate during Atlanta’s nearly week-long water crisis could soon see some financial relief.

Mayor Andre Dickens announced last week a $5 million recovery fund to assist some of the thousands of businesses forced to close their doors after two major water main breaks in Vine City and Midtown caused low pressure or water outages across much of the city.

The money for the fund will come from the Department of Watershed Management’s budget. Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development agency, is administering the fund. The money will be awarded as a grant, not a loan, and will not have to be repaid.

Eloisa Klementich, CEO and president of Invest Atlanta, told members of two Atlanta City Council committees this week plans are to be able to notify businesses receiving awards from the City of Atlanta Business Recovery Fund by the end of July.

Klementich said Invest Atlanta researchers determined nearly 7,000 businesses were affected by the initial May 31 boil water advisory that covered a large swath of the city. Some areas had water service restored by June 3. About 3,700 businesses were under the advisory until June 6.

The grant amount will be based on a business’s revenue and how long they were impacted, according to a presentation by Klementich.

For example, businesses closed or impacted for one to three days with:

• Less than $500,000 in revenue will be eligible for about $2,000; for four or more days, about $6,000.

• Revenue between $500,000 to $1 million will be eligible for about $4,000; for four or more days, about $8,000.

• Revenue over $1 million will be eligible for about $5,000; for four or more days, about $10,000.

If every business applied for a grant, the city would need about $10 million, Klementich said. She said Invest Atlanta expects about 40% of businesses to apply for funding based on data gathered when the agency administered COVID-19 financial aid which would cost about $4.5 million.

“We ultimately won’t know until we get the applications in, but we feel pretty confident that statistically we will be able to address many businesses, probably upwards about 700 businesses, with this fund,” Klementich said.

The City Council is expected to approve the ordinance to create the fund at its Monday, June 17 meeting. Invest Atlanta is planning a webinar to let businesses know more about the program during a webinar on Monday.

If all goes as expected on Monday, the Invest Atlanta board will vote on the program at its June 20 meeting.

Applications would be accepted from June 24 through July 8. Businesses would then find out the week of July 29 if they received any funding.





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