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Decatur DDA approves additional grants for small businesses

Business Decatur

Decatur DDA approves additional grants for small businesses

Downtown Decatur. Photo by Dean Hesse.

By Cathi Harris, contributor 

Decatur, GA — The remaining applicants for Decatur’s emergency small business grant program can expect to receive their funding within the next month, city leaders said Friday.

The Decatur Downtown Development Authority (DDA) voted at its regular meeting to approve an amendment to its memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the city that reallocates $225,000 in unused CARES Act funding to the 14 businesses that did not receive grants in the city’s original lottery process.

“We had 42 businesses that applied for funding in November, requesting a total of $750,000,” Decatur Economic Development Director Angela Threadgill said. “We were only able to fund $500,000. Of the 42 businesses, 28 were fully funded with one other business receiving partial funding.”

The Decatur City Commission voted earlier this month to use some of its unused federal CARES money to support small businesses and nonprofits. Because the small business emergency grant program was a joint effort between the city and the DDA, the change had to be approved by both entities.

Since the remaining businesses were approved through the grant program–but went unfunded during the lottery to distribute the funds–the necessary documentation is already in place to get the money to them, said Kyle Williams, attorney for the DDA board said.

“Since this is not a new application process, we are funding the unfunded grant requests from November, we already knew who the recipients will be,” Williams said. “We already have the grant documents prepared, and should be able to distribute the funds within 30 days.”

In other business:

-The DDA board heard a presentation from Duane Sprull, the director of career and technical education for the City Schools of Decatur. Sprull asked that the DDA consider a partnership with the school system to seek state certification for the Decatur Career Academy at the high school. Certification would require the establishment of an ongoing collaboration with the DDA as the local economic development agency and another local business partner, Sprull said.

“Because the application deadline for this year is at the end of the month, I am not requesting consideration for this year,” Sprull noted. “I would like to come back and ask for your approval to apply for next year.”

If the board agrees next year, they would designate a member to take state-mandated training and continue to work with the Decatur Career Academy to improve workplace educational opportunities for students.

-Downtown Program Manager Shirley Baylis said that businesses on Decatur square are preparing for Sidewalk Saturday next Saturday, March 20. Fab Fridays will resume in April, but only on the first Friday of each month. 

The downtown area is starting to see signs of recovery from the impact of COVID-19, she said. “We have some filming going on downtown and those crews also help our businesses because they eat at restaurants and shop,” Baylis said.

The DeKalb History Center is also seeing an uptick in the number of people scheduling events there, with weddings already booked each weekend through next year.

One of the downtown hotels recently reported reaching 100 percent occupancy this week for the first time since the pandemic began, said Linda Harris, assistant city manager for community and economic development.

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