Decatur Development Authority adds $100K to city’s Small Business Loan Program
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By Cathi Harris, contributor
Decatur, GA – The Decatur Downtown Development Authority (DDA) board voted Friday to allocate $100,000 of its funds to the city’s Emergency Small Business Loan Program.
“The amount would be added to the $400,000 committed by the City Commission and approved on Monday night, making the loan program now at a half-million dollars,” said Angela Threadgill, Decatur’s Director of Planning and Economic Development.
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Meeting via Zoom video conference, the board also discussed continuing to look at its budget for this fiscal year to consider the allocation of additional funds to either the loan program or other similar initiatives that support the local business community.
The loan program, available to businesses in the City of Decatur with 25 or fewer full-time employees, will provide small no-interest or low-interest loans to help those businesses recover from economic damage incurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting shutdown.
The maximum loan amount will be $25,000 with the average loan predicted to be in the $10,000 to $15,000 range. The loans would be repaid over a period of 36 to 60 months and either be unsecured or secured with a personal guarantee.
Individuals wanting to make a charitable contribution to the program will soon be able to do so through the Decatur Legacy Project, a 501(c)(3) that would also participate in the program, Threadgill said.
City economic development staff are also regularly checking in on their retail and restaurant businesses to see how they are doing and share information, said Shirley Baylis, Downtown Program Manager in the city’s Department of Economic Development.
“We were on a call this week with good participation from our retail businesses and restaurants, where one person shared information about different [assistance] programs and how to apply,” Baylis told the board. “It has given us good information on how people are doing.”
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The city has also set up COVID-19: Resources for Decatur Businesses page on its website to provide updated information as they get it, she added.
The city has also launched a social media campaign to promote local businesses and publicize what services are still available, Threadgill said. On the VisitDecaturGA Instagram account, they have done several themed images that highlight a specific business area to let residents know that these businesses are still open and offering delivery or curbside pickup or online services.
“We did one for restaurants called ‘Tired of Cooking?’ and followed that up with one targeting groceries and local markets,” she said. “Then we did one for our local gyms and fitness centers that are doing online classes.”
The images posted to Instagram and Facebook also point people to an interactive StoryMap–Decatur Open for Business–on the city’s website that contains updated listings of Decatur businesses, their contact information, current business hours, method of operation, and links to gift cards for that business, if available.
“Once you click on a listing [on the map], it will zoom to that location and the user will get a popup box with all of the information,” Threadgill explained. “We try to provide that for all of our businesses. We try to update weekly or twice-weekly as we have new information. For example, I know that there are some restaurants that have been closed that will be opening for takeout.”
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The DDA is continuing to look at ways it can support local businesses as the COVID-19 shutdown continues, said Board Chair Chris Sciarrone. He encouraged residents of Decatur to reach out with ideas or suggestions.
“We are trying to do a lot with this resolution, but I know we all have contacts in the community,” Sciarrone said. “Please reach out to us, either collectively or individually if there is anything the board can do.”
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