Decatur close to awarding more grants to small, non-profit businesses

COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on independent local business and the downtown festivals that typically draw thousands to the Decatur Square (shown here) during summer and fall. Next month the city will announce a new round of grants for struggling small and nonprofit businesses. Bill Banks file photo for the AJC
COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on independent local business and the downtown festivals that typically draw thousands to the Decatur Square (shown here) during summer and fall. Next month the city will announce a new round of grants for struggling small and nonprofit businesses. Bill Banks file photo for the AJC

Deadlines for applying for both small business and non-profit business grants have come and gone, with Decatur expected to announce the grant recipients in early and mid-December.

Decatur’s portion of the federal government’s CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act came to $2.914 million, from which $1.2 million gets carved out for small business and nonprofit relief.

In May, 28 small businesses initially received loans from the city’s Downtown Development Authority. But with release of the CARES funds in October, the city commission approved $500,000 going to those 28, thus transforming their loans into grants for expenses incurred due to the effects of COVID-19.

It was also announced in October that another $400,000 will go towards a new round of small business grants. Criteria for qualification include employing between one and 50 full-time staffers with a cap of $25,000 per company. Deadline for applying was Nov. 25, with grant recipients scheduled to get notified the week of December 14. If the small business grant program is oversubscribed—that is, if application requests total more than $400,000—a blind lottery will determine the recipients.

An additional $300,000 gets distributed to local nonprofit organizations, also in the form of grants, ranging from $5,000 to $25,000 apiece. To qualify a nonprofit must have been physically located within Decatur city limits since March 1, 2020, must have 1 to 30 full time continuous employees as of March 1 and must demonstrate, according to city, “adverse and unforeseen impacts directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The business must also be a Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, or a place of worship. The application deadline was Nov. 16, with the grants likely getting city commission approval on Dec. 7 and the funds getting disbursed on Dec. 18.

Deputy City Manager Hugh Saxon, who’s running the non-profit grant program, said it’s already oversubscribed and that a lottery will determine the approximately “12 to 15” recipients.

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