How Atlanta businesses hurt by water outage can apply for relief funds

Application window for $7.5 million in small business relief funds opens June 24 and closes July 8

Thousands of Atlanta’s small businesses had to shutter operations or alter plans during the city’s six-day water main crisis earlier in June, leading to a flood of complaints from business owners.

Those impacted businesses will get the chance to recoup some of those losses that trickled down the drain.

Atlanta City Council created a $7.5 million relief fund for small businesses, a program that will be run by the city’s economic development arm, Invest Atlanta. The authority’s board voted Thursday to establish the fund and finalize its application criteria, timeline and limitations.

Here’s what city business owners who plan to apply need to know:

How to qualify

The relief fund is intended for losses not covered by insurance.

The boil water advisories spanned multiple parts of the city — but largely in Midtown and downtown — from May 31 until June 6. To get approved, businesses must be located within the impacted boil water advisory areas.

Thousands of businesses suffered financial losses during the six days that Atlanta residents were under a boil water advisory.

Credit: Courtesy of Invest Atlanta

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Credit: Courtesy of Invest Atlanta

They also must be registered with the Georgia Secretary of State and have an active 2024 city of Atlanta business license. Invest Atlanta staffers said priority will be given to the industries that were most affected, including restaurants, beauty salons, coffee shops, juice bars and day cares.

“If you don’t have running water, you can’t serve in your restaurants or have children there at the day care,” said Noah Downer, Invest Atlanta’s senior vice president of economic development, who presented the criteria at the authority’s Thursday meeting.

What doesn’t qualify

Applications will be denied for nonprofit organizations unless they have for-profit activities. Businesses involved in gambling activities — unless it is state lottery ticket sales — and certain adult businesses will not qualify.

Home-based businesses and passive businesses are also omitted along with corporate-owned franchises and businesses owned by city of Atlanta and Invest Atlanta employees and their families.

How many businesses were affected

It’s estimated that nearly 7,000 businesses were affected by the initial May 31 boil water advisory, according to Invest Atlanta CEO and President Eloisa Klementich. The following Midtown water break left about 3,700 businesses under the boil water advisory until June 6.

Klementich said that if every impacted business applied for funding, the cost would be about $10 million. But Invest Atlanta estimated only about 40% of eligible businesses will apply.

Manager Mitch Frohman carries ice at Steamhouse Lounge in Atlanta on Thursday, June 6, 2024. The restaurant just re-opened after being closed for five days following several water main breaks in the city. (Arvin Temkar / AJC)


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The relief program was initially going to include $5 million, but the council increased the amount to $7.5 million before approving it June 17.

“We expect a really strong response from small businesses and wanted to make sure that we had enough funds to cover what we anticipate will be a lot of interest,” said Councilmember Matt Westmoreland, who introduced the legislation.

What are the relief categories

Compensation will vary depending on the revenue of a business and how many days it was subject to a boil water advisory.

Businesses will be categorized into three gross revenue categories: Less than $500,000 per year; between $500,000 and $1 million per year; and more than $1 million per year. They will also qualify for more funding if they were closed or impacted by at least four days during the water outage.

The maximum compensation amounts provided by Invest Atlanta vary from $2,000 to $10,000. For example, a business with less than $500,000 in annual revenue that was impacted for two days can receive up to $2,000, while a business with more than $1 million in annual revenue that was closed for five days can receive up to $10,000.

What you need to apply

Businesses will need to include the following paperwork in their application:

• Active 2024 city of Atlanta business license

• Articles of Incorporation or Ownership

• Operations Agreement or the Corporate Bylaws

• Georgia Secretary of State registration

• Proof of revenue or point-of-sale reports from before, during and after the impact period

• An impact statement (included in the application)

• A notarized SAVE Affidavit attesting to citizenship or legal immigration status for public benefits

• Valid lease or security deed

Duplication of Benefits Certificate Form

When to apply

The application window opens June 24 and will close 5 p.m. July 8. Businesses will be notified of compensation amounts the week of July 29.

More information is available at Invest Atlanta can be reached at and 404-419-0868.

— Staff writer Riley Bunch contributed to this report.