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City of Decatur plans to forgive small business loans, provide more grants with CARES money

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City of Decatur plans to forgive small business loans, provide more grants with CARES money

FILE PHOTO: Terry Koval, owner and chef at the Deer And The Dove and B-Side Wood Fired Bagels on Sycamore Street said he had to let his entire staff go. He is asking people to contact their senators and representatives to demand that independent businesses be part of federal stimulus plan. Photo by Dean Hesse
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Decatur, GA — Small business owners in Decatur struggling with the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic will stand to benefit from a cash infusion provided by the city of Decatur and the federal government.

The city plans to use money from the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act to forgive existing loans provided under an old program and provide additional money for small business grants. The City has received $2,914,000 in federal CARES Act funding to handle expenses related to COVID-19.

In April, the City Commission allocated $400,000 for a small business loan program. The city’s Downtown Development Authority also kicked in $100,000. The Decatur Legacy Project, the nonprofit board overseeing Legacy Park, raised an additional $63,400. All of that money is gone, with the city giving out 28 loans out of 45 businesses that applied for it. The awards were decided using a lottery process. In full disclosure, Decaturish applied for a loan but lost out during the lottery process.

Under the terms of Memorandums of Understanding approved by the City Commission on Monday and subsequently approved by the Downtown Development Authority on Thursday, those loans would be repaid using the CARES money, effectively turning the loans into grants. A separate MOU, also approved by the City Commission and DDA, uses $400,000 in CARES money to establish a new small business grant program.

The new grant program will have some new parameters that will make it easier for businesses to apply. It will allow applications from businesses that are owned and staffed by sole proprietors and increase the employee number limit from 30 to 50. Applicants can request $5,000 per full-time employee, up to a maximum of $25,000. In the likely event that there are more requests than money available, a lottery process will be used again.

During the Thursday DDA meeting, board members discussed using the $100,000 it will be reimbursed for its previous contribution to add to the new $400,000 grant program.

Details about how to apply for the grants were not immediately available. That information will be published on Decaturish when it is released by the city.

 

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