Atlanta gets $20 million donation from Wells Fargo to create grant for small businesses

 Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens talks to the crowd before the swearing-in ceremony for the new Atlanta Board of Education members Monday 10, 2021.   STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

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Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens talks to the crowd before the swearing-in ceremony for the new Atlanta Board of Education members Monday 10, 2021. STEVE SCHAEFER FOR THE ATLANTA JOURNAL-CONSTITUTION

Atlanta is receiving $20 million from Wells Fargo to support small business owners, according to the mayor’s office on Friday.

The funds will be used to help small businesses own more of their assets, including property and equipment, and to enable physical upgrades to their facilities. The United Way of Greater Atlanta will work with Invest Atlanta to distribute the funding as a mix of grants and loans in the city, with a focus on Black-owned and other businesses with diverse ownership.

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Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens met with Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf Friday morning before the donation was announced. He called it a game changer.

“As a former small business owner, I understand the vital role of small businesses in Atlanta’s economy and community, and we are excited to announce this program in the first few weeks of our new administration,” Dickens said in a statement.

The grants will emphasize creating affordable commercial real estate to offer a more permanent home to entrepreneurs, according to the city. Atlanta small business owners can contact Invest Atlanta for information on the program.

United Way will use the donation to support a Small Business Loan Fund, Asset Building Assistance, Façade Improvement Grants, and Commercial Ownership Growth. The city’s website has more information on these initiatives.

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Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf apologized Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 for a remark he made in June about the talent pool of senior Black banking executives that set off a wave of criticism when the quote resurfaced Tuesday. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf apologized Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 for a remark he made in June about the talent pool of senior Black banking executives that set off a wave of criticism when the quote resurfaced Tuesday. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Combined ShapeCaption
Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf apologized Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020 for a remark he made in June about the talent pool of senior Black banking executives that set off a wave of criticism when the quote resurfaced Tuesday. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

The donation comes from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund, a roughly $420 million fund created in July 2020 to help small businesses stay open during the pandemic. The fund focuses on the racially and ethnically diverse small businesses that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

The San Francisco-based banking giant created the fund with the gross processing fees from administering Paycheck Protection Program loans in 2020, according to the city. Wells Fargo is collaborating with Community Development Financial Institutions and local nonprofits nationwide to distribute the funds.

“As a company, we have a commitment to make the communities where we operate stronger, and to do it at a very local level,” Wells Fargo CEO Charlie Scharf said in a statement. “Making a large donation in Atlanta — one of the largest donations we’ve made from the Open for Business Fund — was important to us. We know it will make a difference for small business owners here.”