Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens tackles issues affecting local businesses


Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens co-hosted the Atlanta Business Summit with the co-founder of The Gathering Spot, Ryan Wilson on Feb. 8. The hour-long conversation touched on topics surrounding the idea of growing Atlanta’s businesses seeking to set up shop in Atlanta, build connections, plus creating and maximizing opportunities for Atlanta’s citizens.

Dickens laid out his plan for affordable housing and how it plays into the dynamic of sustaining Atlanta’s thriving business community. 

“I’m trying to get to the place where when I build 20,000 units of affordable housing, you go in there at 25 years old and I don’t want you to stay there until you’re 105 years old,” Dickens said. “I want you to go in there 25, I want to make sure that you go on a workforce development, track that issue to technology job, a nursing job, a CDL license, or start your own business, whatever kind of business you want to start so that in five years, we’re moving you out of there.”

Dickens believes with the right planning, an individual can begin in an affordable housing unit and would result in making $70,000 and the next affordable housing unit can go to the next person.  

“We don’t want to wake up and those 20,000 units are filled with people that are now in their 40th year in that same unit,” Dickens said. “That’s what has happened with concentrations of poverty and multi generational poverty.”

Wilson asked Dickens a question regarding crime. Dickens admitted Atlanta does have issues with violent crimes. According to a report by Atlanta Police reported 158 murders for 2021, compared to a reported 157 for 2020, which would be less than a 1% increase. 

Crime is a variable that creates uncertainty for the business community.

“Crime comes into your sphere, it may not happen directly to you but to come to our city and then bring something down,” Dickens explained. “It makes someone not want to invest to make someone not want to come into your doors because you’re too close to where a crime has occurred.”

Dickens told the audience the Atlanta Police Department is operating at a deficit of about 400 to 500 officers. He reiterated his goal of hiring 250 new officers by the end of the year. Moreover, he said the officers are trained on conflict resolutions, practices, and also how to effectively patrol and provide service at bars and nightclubs.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens is joined by Invest Atlanta CEO Eloisa Klementich and Local Green Atlanta founder Zak Wallace at The Gathering Spot on Tuesday, February 8, 2022. (Photo by: Itoro N. Umontuen/The Atlanta Voice)

After the summit, Dickens and Invest Atlanta CEO Eloisa Klementich announced the relaunch of the Resurgence Fund. Atlanta’s small business communities can draw from the $10 million pool of funds designed to adapt the salient realities of COVID-19.

According to a release, eligible businesses may be awarded grants of up to $40,000 to reimburse costs incurred (after March 3, 2021) by adapting business operations in a post-COVID environment. Through this Resurgence Grant Program, Invest Atlanta is seeking to lessen the negative financial impact to businesses and cover costs associated with operating safely during the pandemic.

According to Klementich, a for-profit business is eligible for a Resurgence Grant Fund grant if it meets all of the following criteria at the time of application: 

  • Holds a 2022 City of Atlanta business license (as required for those businesses by State, Federal, or Local law);
  • Had fewer than 250 employees as of December 31, 2021; 
  • Can attest to not receiving funds from any other Federal funds or relief for the same loss or expense being reimbursed under the RGF program; and 
  • Can attest to having a financial hardship such as declines in revenues or impacts of periods of business closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.      

A non-profit organization is eligible for a Resurgence Grant Fund grant if it meets all of the following criteria at the time of application: 

  • Holds a 2022 City of Atlanta business license; or
  • Can provide a 2022 City of Atlanta Letter of Good Standing;
  • Had fewer than 250 employees as of December 31, 2021;
  • Can provide a copy of their IRS Determination Letter;  
  • Can attest to not receiving funds from any other Federal funds or relief for the same loss or expense being reimbursed under the RGF program; and 
  • Can attest to having a financial hardship such as declines in revenues or impacts of periods of business closure as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Eloisa has mentioned that we have this $10 million which is COVID,” Dickens said. “But we also have this $20 million that I announced two weeks ago from Wells Fargo, you can go on a forward looking projection with that money.”

Despite the resources, Dickens advises new and unsure business owners to raise their hands and ask questions.

“If there are challenges in your business, don’t be ashamed to raise your hand,” Dickens proclaimed. “Don’t drown without giving the lifeguards a chance to help.”



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