Tucker is undoubtedly one of the fastest-rising business destinations in the Metro Atlanta area. Each month, the Business Boom will seek to show different examples of how Tucker’s business scene is flourishing.
Clearly, it is an unprecedented time that we are currently experiencing with a range of serious challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In balancing the overall health of the nation, important safety measures were instituted that involved the temporary closing of many businesses. This has had a devasting economic impact to our small business community, but there has been a federal response which is ongoing as this column goes to print. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) developed two loan and grant programs that are making a difference for many companies. Please visit the Economic Development page of the City’s website for more specific information at tuckerga.gov/biz.
The Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) allows for small business owners who are eligible to apply for a loan of up to $2 million at very competitive rates and up to a 30-year duration. Applicants apply for this loan directly through the SBA (not through banks) and may request an advance of up to $10,000. This advance will provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. Funds are made available following a successful application and the loan advance will not have to be repaid.
Another tool offered by the SBA is the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a potentially forgivable loan designed to provide a direct incentive for small businesses and nonprofits to keep their workers on the payroll. SBA will forgive loans if an equal number and salary level of employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks following the funding day of your PPP loan. If a minimum of 75% of the PPP funds are used for payroll purposes only, the additional funds may be used for rent, mortgage interest, or utilities that have accrued after the day of funding. This program is offered through participating federally insured depository institutions, including community banks. The maximum loan size is $10 million.
One of our new businesses, The Corner Cup Coffee, was able to secure a PPP loan with the help of Tandem Bank, right down the road on Main Street.
Owner Michael Vorndran shared, “The team at Tandem was extremely helpful throughout the application process. It is a relief to know that no matter what happens over the next couple of months, we will be able to stay open and keep our employees working.”
Andy Alexander, a local business owner and member of Tucker’s Downtown Development Authority, agreed, stressing that Tandem Bank was very professional and responsive on his PPP application and that he is grateful that Tucker now has a community bank with this expertise. Although initial funding for this program was exhausted, Congress is expected to approve an additional $310 billion in funding (on top of the $349 billion in the CARES Act) for the Paycheck Protection Program. Tandem Bank has already processed over 150 applications for $23 million and expects to process more than 200 in total during the program.
The City of Tucker is also working closely with Decide DeKalb, Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) and the Georgia Department of Economic Development to ensure that our business owners are advised of all resources and programs that they may be eligible for.
“The DeKalb team is working hard to make sure that our business owners have all of the tools that we can provide at this difficult time. We want to make sure that DeKalb businesses know where to turn for loans, marketing support and the other programs that they need to survive,” said Randi Mason, Decide DeKalb’s Vice President of Economic Development.
Irvin Clark, Vice President of Economic Development at GPTC emphasized that the school is fully committed to supporting their business and industry partners and the communities they serve during the current COVID-19 crisis. GPTC’s Economic Development Division recently launched a series of free webinars that will focus on disaster mitigation strategies that will help support local business during this unparalleled time. For additional information including start times and registration instructions please email GoMetroCorporateCollege@GPTC.edu.
During this period, the City has continued to provide all services and is still experiencing the same upward trend in building and development permits. The City has suspended late fees and penalties for occupational taxes through April 30th. The two Community Improvement Districts (CIDs) continue their comprehensive work of supplying additional transportation and aesthetic improvements, while providing additional security and advocating for their commercial property owners.
Matthew Lee, Executive Director of the Tucker-Northlake CID explained, “I’ve been impressed by the wisdom, sacrifice, and ingenuity of those who have essentially retooled their entire operation to comply with the law. It’s a reflection of who our local business owners are and their commitment to the community. From food service to banking, lumber, manufacturing, and even a comic book store, our businesses understand they have a role in shaping public health.”
There are two new restaurants that are in the planning and buildout stages for downtown, as well as many other residential and commercial developments still underway. This is a tough, tough time for our business community. Still, we know that Tucker is a caring, industrious community and that we will work together to come out of this stronger.