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.
Tucker Assists Businesses During Pandemic
In my last column I shared an overview of the various state and federal efforts such as the Paycheck Protection Program offered to ease some of the economic pain due to the pandemic. This month I want to share the City’s local efforts to reach and further aid our business community with a personal, albeit socially distant touch.
First off, our Communications Department has created a centralized repository for information and resources for businesses and residents, which is updated as city, county and state orders continue to evolve. Please visit the Coronavirus Facts & Resources page for current details at tuckerga.gov/coronavirus.
Our initial outreach effort focused on ensuring our customer contact businesses such as restaurants, hair salons, barber shops, and nightclubs were aware of current state orders and potential impacts to their operating procedures. At the same time, we contacted over 50 senior and long-term care facilities to provide guidance and any assistance to our most vulnerable population. The City’s Business Outreach Coordinator, Angela Brooks, jumped on this opportunity.
“It was extremely gratifying to be able to speak one-on-one with business owners, store managers, and staff at our nursing homes during this crisis,” Brooks said. “To be able to offer support, provide answers and show that City is here working for our businesses – that’s my job.”
One of the things we learned was there was a need for medical grade masks. The City promptly responded by distributing masks to senior and long-term care facilities and local businesses, in addition to three events specifically targeted for the public. We gave out 6,400 masks in all. The masks were purchased with budgeted money that had been earmarked for several projects cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus.
Clearly one of the sectors hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic is the restaurant industry. This is true from the tiny take-out only spots to giant chains. The City of Tucker is blessed with over 120 restaurants that range from down home Southern cooking to ethnic international cuisine. Our restaurants connect our community and increasingly expand and engage our downtown. To help, the City developed two key initiatives. Our mapping staff built an interactive web-based application that features all our restaurants and allow users to see whether restaurants are open for delivery, take-out, dine-in, or all three.
“This app will give users access to information about every one of the restaurants within Tucker’s city limits,” said app designer David Zeh, who serves as Tucker’s Geographic Information System Analyst. “We’ve found that restaurants are in all stages of re-opening right now, so we hope that this will help make it easier for people to patronize our great Tucker businesses.”
The interactive map features a list of all restaurants grouped by their level of service where users can zoom in and select businesses in a certain area. Each entry provides links to the specific restaurant’s website. Please take a test drive and let us know your thoughts by visiting the GIS page on our city website.
In addition, Mayor Auman issued an executive order that will allow restaurants in the City to expand their outdoor dining. The order will enable restaurateurs to apply for a Temporary Outdoor Dining Permit from the City’s Planning and Zoning Department for al fresco dining in adjoining sidewalks and parking lots. Aside from allowing restaurants to expand their outdoor dining capacity, the order also gives mobile food vendors, like food trucks, the ability to apply for a Mobile Food Vendor Permit.
“We’re a dining destination and we want to do everything we safely can to encourage employment and economic activity in Tucker, and to help these great restaurants to thrive during these tough times,” Auman said.
Despite this continued economic strain, we still see a steady stream of building permits and new business license applications in Tucker. In the meantime, City staff is going to keep on working on innovative ways to support and advance our businesses.