Last week, The Red & Black published a story outlining the uncertain future for bars in Athens after COVID-19 closures. Bars have lost an estimated $4 million in mixed drink sales due to being closed for approximately two months. Gov. Brian Kemp recently extended his order for bars and nightclubs to remain closed until May 31.
Here’s an explanation of some of the grants and ordinances that Athens bars and other small businesses have taken advantage of, and some that are still available.
Federal Economic Injury Disaster Loans and loan advances
The U.S. Small Business Administration offers disaster loans and loan advances for small business owners, according to the SBA website. Business owners can apply for loans up to $2 million and loan advances up to $10,000 “to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the Athens Downtown Development Authority. Loan advances do not need to be repaid and businesses can be granted $1,000 per employee up to $10,000.
The loans can be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the pandemic’s impact, according to the ADDA.
Businesses are eligible if they have less than 500 employees, are an independent contractor or are a non-profit. The $10,000 loan advance will be available within three days of application, according to the ADDA. The interest rate for a loan is 3.75% for small businesses and 2.75% for non-profits.
Paycheck Protection Program loan
The Paycheck Protection Program is a loan for small businesses to keep their workers on the payroll. The program was created by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act. These loans cover sick leave, parental leave and medical leave.
The SBA forgives PPP loans if employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the money is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities, according to the SBA website. For the loan to be forgiven, at least 75% of the loan must be used for payroll.
Forgiveness is also based on employers maintaining or quickly rehiring employees and maintaining salary levels — forgiveness will be reduced if the number of full-time workers declines, or if salaries and wages decrease.
Takeout alcohol ordinance
A March emergency order allowed establishments that sell beer or wine to begin selling unopened containers of alcohol for takeout in Athens-Clarke County.
“I believe it is in the best interest of Athens-Clarke County, its residents, and its businesses to temporarily suspend the enforcement of certain provisions of the Alcoholic Beverage Ordinances in order to assist local business and residents coping with the COVID-19 Emergency,” County Manager Blaine Williams said in the order.
ACC has an ordinance that ordinarily prohibits businesses from selling alcohol for takeout. The temporary order allowing takeout sales followed steps taken by metro Atlanta cities which allowed takeout sales of alcohol in closed containers from restaurants and bars while those establishments are closed.
Athens bars, including The World Famous and Flicker Theatre & Bar, took advantage of this order in order to stay afloat.
Athens Downtown Development Authority small business grant
The ADDA announced the availability of a one-time $1,000 small business grant in March. Businesses employing between one and 10 full-time employees and that were closed or with lower staff due to the outbreak were eligible to apply for a Small Business Resiliency Grant. To receive the grant, the businesses had to demonstrate how the $1,000 in grant funding would be used.
The deadline for this grant application was March 30, said David Lynn, the director of planning and outreach of ADDA.