Future of Atlanta

The city of Atlanta has launched a new $3.5 million loan program for local existing business owners acquire commercial property.

Credit: Associated Press

The city of Atlanta has launched a new $3.5 million loan program that offers low-interest financing to assist local existing business owners acquire commercial property.

Known as the Atlanta Commercial Down Payment Assistance Loan Program (CDPA), it is the latest initiative that United Way of Greater Atlanta and Invest Atlanta have rolled out as a part of the Atlanta Open for Business Fund

Through the CDPA, Atlanta small businesses are eligible to apply for a direct loan of up to 20% of commercial property costs up to $200,000 to acquire commercial property.

“Healthy, thriving local businesses are a cornerstone of our communities,” said Mayor Andre Dickens in a news release. 

“Inflation and economic strains resulting from the pandemic have made many small businesses increasingly vulnerable to displacement,” Dickens said. “The Atlanta Open for Business Fund is designed to help Atlanta businesses keep their doors open and expand and develop a resiliency that withstands unforeseen economic challenges.”

The Atlanta Open for Business Fund, with a particular focus on assisting racially and ethnically diverse business owners who have been disproportionately hurt by the pandemic, is made possible by a $20 million donation from Wells Fargo. The fund is designed to help the owners of Atlanta small businesses own more of their businesses’ assets — including property and equipment — and fund physical upgrades to their facilities.

Those applying for a CDPA loan must be an existing small business with a city of Atlanta business license interested in acquiring commercial real estate in the city. 

The program puts an emphasis on buying property in low-income census tracts, Federal Opportunity Zone areas, disadvantaged neighborhoods or a New Markets Tax Credit approved area neighborhood. Businesses must also demonstrate growth potential in their industry, according to the release.

Loans are for the purchase/acquisition and related renovations of a building zoned commercial within the city of Atlanta. After 10 years of consistent payments and meeting claw back provisions, a business can apply to convert the loan to a grant.

Dr. Eloisa Klementich, president and CEO of Invest Atlanta, said the timing of this program and other business loan programs are crucial because an estimated 25% of businesses do not open again after a major disaster like a global pandemic. 

“What we are doing with the support of Wells Fargo is offering small businesses resources that give them the means to withstand economic uncertainly to build long-term wealth,” she said in the release.

President and CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta Milton J. Little said the CDPA program’s focus to assist racially and ethnically diverse small business owners “is essential to the equitable growth of our communities and to the economic success of greater Atlanta.”

To learn more about and apply for the Atlanta Commercial Down Payment Assistance Loan Program, small business owners should visit www.investatlanta.com/cdpa. Small businesses interested in the program may request assistance with their application through Invest Atlanta by visiting www.atlinbusiness.com.

In June, United Way of Greater Atlanta and Invest Atlanta successfully launched the first Atlanta Open for Business program — the Atlanta Recovery Loan Program (ARLP) that provides 3% interest loans to small businesses interested in acquiring tangible business assets. The Commercial Property Improvement Grant (CPIG) was launched in August providing grants for small businesses of up to $50,000 for exterior and interior enhancements to their business.

United Way and Invest Atlanta are distributing the Atlanta Open for Business Fund as a mix of grants and loan programs with a focus on Black-owned and other diverse-owned businesses. Learn more about that program here.

This story comes to GPB through a reporting partnership with Reporter Newspapers.