Jun 4, 2024 - News

Proposal offers $5 million to small businesses affected by water outage

Advocates call for the city to supply funding to help small and medium size businesses recover from the water main break.

Community advocates push for funding to help businesses affected by the water main break. Photo: Kristal Dixon/Axios

The city of Atlanta is looking to help small business owners whose bottom lines were hit due to two major water main breaks that happened Friday.

Why it matters: Time is money, and every day a business can't open to customers puts that company in jeopardy of not making payroll and covering other expenses.

Driving the news: Council member Matt Westmoreland introduced legislation on Monday to allow the city to transfer $5 million to Invest Atlanta, which would set up the City of Atlanta Recovery Fund.

  • The fund would help small businesses that were affected by the water main breaks in Vine City and Midtown.
  • "We know the crucial part that our small businesses play in our lives and our economy and making sure that we have thriving neighborhoods, and we want to help them regain their footing if they were affected by these events of this weekend," Mayor Andre Dickens said at the City Council meeting.

State of play: The $5 million price tag is the same amount community organizers asked Atlanta to set aside during a press conference on Monday at City Hall.

What they're saying: Devin Barrington-Ward, a community organizer with Black Futurists Group, told reporters during a press conference before Monday's City Council meeting that "the idea that their businesses were interrupted, that profit was interrupted due to no fault of their own, [is] unacceptable."

  • "This wasn't a terrorist attack," he said. "This wasn't a natural disaster. This was just pure negligence, and where we're spending our money and our resources is not reflected in the need that is taking place right now."

Zoom in: Trinket Lewis, owner of plant-based smoothie shop MoreLyfe Juice Co. on Cascade Road in southwest Atlanta, said her sales dropped by more than 50% since on Friday when the water main break at Joseph E. Boone Boulevard and James P. Brawley Drive forced her to close.

  • Lewis said she purchased 20 gallons of water and 15 bags of ice, which allowed her to open.
  • She said she was already "struggling" due to construction in the area that decreased traffic to her business.

What's next: Westmoreland's legislation was referred to the Council's Community Development/Human Services and Finance/Executive committees.

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