Atlanta announces grants to help hundreds of small businesses with pandemic costs

Mayor Andre Dickens Lucy Sims
Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens presents a Resurgence Grant check to Lucy Sims, chief financial officer of The Beautiful Restaurant. (Emil Moffatt/WABE)

Lucy Sims says The Beautiful Restaurant, a staple in Atlanta’s Cascade Heights neighborhood, was forced to close its doors for nine months in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Since re-opening, Sims says the eatery has faced staffing issues and the rising cost of food.

“Our grocery bill went up, which meant we had to go up on prices,” said Sims, the restaurant’s chief financial officer. “I’m thankful for our loyal customers, they seem to understand.”

This Beautiful Restaurant is one of more than 420 small businesses or non-profits in Atlanta receiving Resurgence Grants to help offset expenses brought on by the pandemic.

The $8.2 million awarded this week is part of $10 million in federal relief funds set aside by the city for small businesses. The average size of the grants was just over $14,000, according to the city.

“This frees us up to look for people, more qualified people, but mainly just good stable help,” said Sims, who noted that shortage of workers has prevented the restaurant from opening for breakfast like it used to.

The city received more than 2,500 applications and hired nearly two-dozen contract workers to evaluate those applications and verify expenditures to make sure they complied with federal guidelines.

Eloisa Klementich, who heads Invest Atlanta, says the grants were awarded at “record speed”, outpacing many other cities and states.

Klementich says businesses and non-profits awarded grants this week should receive instructions through e-mail.

Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens says more than 85% of the Resurgence Grants were awarded to minority-owned businesses; more than 50% to women-owned businesses and 6% to veteran-owned businesses.

“Many businesses like theirs were forced to make changes and were required to make some hard decisions to adapt to the new and unknown challenges brought on by Covid-19,” said Dickens. “Like thousands of businesses and non-profits in Atlanta, those decisions and adaptations cost them money.”