Historic District Hot Corner Mug

The Athens Downtown Development Authority has announced the availability of small business grants to offset expenses during the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo/Ryan Cameron rcameron@randb.com)

The Athens Downtown Development Authority has announced the availability of one-time $1,000 small business grants to offset expenses during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a press release.

Businesses operating within the downtown Athens area that employ 1-10 full-time employees and have closed or reduced staffing capacity due to the outbreak are eligible to apply for a Small Business Resiliency Grant, according to the release. The businesses must demonstrate how the $1,000 in grant funding will be used.

The funding for the emergency grants comes from other downtown programming the ADDA plans to suspend, including the Facade Grant and Reach Grant programs, said ADDA Director of Planning and Outreach David Lynn. The ADDA has yet to determine the exact amount of awardable grant money, though the organization is willing to re-budget to give out as much as they can afford, Lynn said.

“We’re not putting any strings attached on these grants, we hope as much as possible that this money can be filtered down to employees who lost their jobs,” Lynn said.

The ADDA streamlined the application process to make the grant program as flexible as possible. The organization received around 10 applicants hours after the application period opened, Lynn said. As of press time, the organization has received around 20 applications. Lynn said the ADDA expects around 50 applicants. A deadline for the grant application period has yet to be established.

“Downtown is a very special place for Athenians,” Lynn said. “Small businesses are the heart and soul of downtown, and if we can as an agency provide any assistance to them, the downtown community will recover faster and be economically viable as soon as possible.

Outside of the ADDA, the Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission announced plans to provide up to $3,000,000 of emergency assistance to businesses operating in Athens-Clarke County at its March 19 special called session. Allocated from its Prosperity Package, the funds can be used to provide assistance to employees and hourly wage earners and non-profit community partners providing "essential services" during the pandemic.

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