By: Max Crampton- Thomas
2 min read April 2020 — The city of Decatur is among the many cities across the United States dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic. Decatur Mayor Patti Garrett discusses her city’s efforts to assist the business community and residents in this time of crisis, including the provision of loans to small businesses and an information pipeline for the community.
How is the local governance working to assist the business community in mitigating the challenges and impact felt from the COVID-19 pandemic?
Our Community and Economic Development department has initiated a strategic marketing campaign, highlighting businesses such as restaurants and fitness facilities with links to their websites and information. You can find some examples on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/visitdecaturga/
We also have developed an interactive map showing which businesses are open, such as restaurants that are open for take-out or curbside pick-up and retail locations with on-line ordering. Our Downtown Development manager is checking in almost daily with businesses, holding a Zoom call with retailers and a separate call with restaurants. We also have developed a webpage with resources for businesses: https://www.decaturga.com/ed/page/covid-19-resources-decatur-businesses
In addition, we have now established a small-business loan program with $400,000 from the city budget. Businesses can find more information at our website: https://decatur.civicweb.net/document/3216
What efforts is the city making in terms of assisting those residents who have become recently unemployed?
The city has extended the grace period for city taxes to July 15 with no penalties or interest. More information on that is available here: https://decatur.civicweb.net/document/3218
Do you feel the city’s efforts toward mitigating the challenges caused by this pandemic are receiving enough state and federal support?
Georgia cities are asking for additional assistance for cities of all sizes in the 4th Supplemental Aid Package. Our revenue streams and budgets will all be significantly impacted and we are asking for Congress to approve emergency appropriations for direct local budget relief for cities of all sizes. While private sector businesses can qualify for tax credits for wage expenses, the city is continuing to pay employees who are not able to work, such as school-crossing guards, without the same benefits afforded to the private sector.
How can the community best assist the city’s efforts in this time of need?
We ask that citizens be patient and know that the city is committed to providing high-quality essential services. Support local businesses; practice physical distancing but not “social” distancing – stay in touch with family, friends and neighbors. Residents can also show their appreciation of the city’s front-line employees, including sanitation workers, firefighters and police officers. This can be done with a simple smile, wave or thank you.
What would your message be to the local community that is sheltering in place and waiting for a return to normalcy?
We are a resilient and resourceful community. It’s important to follow the rules as we move through this together. We are #DecaturStrong.
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