In Wednesday's AJC

In his inauguration speech, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said he wants to be known as the “mayor of the small businessperson.” What do small business owners need from the mayor?

Talk to small business owners, and they’ll complain about the fees.

Some restaurant owners, for instance, can’t afford Atlanta’s $5,000 annual liquor license. In comparison, Decatur charges $2,750 for a license to serve beer, wine and liquor.

Another problem?

There seems to be a double standard. Or so says Joe Williams, who helps his wife run The Fainting Couch, an antique shop in Midtown.

He and the city did battle three years ago over the beaded mannequin named “Gertrude” that sits on a bench in front of the shop. According to Williams, the city said the mannequin blocked the path of those who want to walk on the sidewalk. Yet, a restaurant a few blocks away has tables on the sidewalk outside its business.

“The people who make the rules don’t understand business,” Williams said.

And yet, Atlanta has seen an explosion in the number of small businesses.

The number of firms with less than 10 employees has risen from 8,535 in 2005 to last year’s total of 16,651, according to the Atlanta Development Authority. ADA officials attribute the increase to two things: people who’ve been laid off starting their own businesses, and more international firms setting up shop in the city.

What else did small business owners have to say?