Mayor Kasim Reed announced 14 winners of the MLK Ignite Capital Grant, a program that awards $100,000 to small businesses located on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Atlanta City Councilmember Ivory Young Jr. joined the Mayor for a ceremony today.

Reed directed Invest Atlanta, the city’s economic development arm, to create the grant program as part of the City’s overall efforts to revitalize the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive Corridor.

The 14 small businesses will receive $5,000-$10,000 each to meet their immediate, short-term needs, such as building façade upgrades, property improvements, and equipment purchases.

“The street honoring Dr. King’s legacy in Atlanta should and will be one of the most attractive, vibrant and important streets in our city,” Reed said. “By investing in small businesses along the Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive Corridor, we are supporting the women and men who have supported their communities for years.

“These businesses offer local residents more choices to shop, dine and work closer to home,” he continued. “I congratulate each one of our grant recipients, and look forward to the changes and improvements they make with the support of the MLK Ignite Capital Grant.”

Each small business was required to provide 30 percent of the cost of the capital investment they proposed to make for their business. The grant award covered the remaining 70 percent of the capital cost.

The grant funds come from the $10 million federal TIGER VII grant awarded to the City of Atlanta in August 2016 and are the centerpiece of the $35 million renovations to improve safety and mobility and promote economic development along more than seven miles of this historic street.

“The future strength and equity of Atlanta’s economy depend largely on making effective investments in commercial corridors like MLK Drive,” said Eloisa Klementich, who serves as president and CEO of Invest Atlanta. “The work we’re doing to support businesses through this program goes hand in hand with our economic growth strategies to increase small business activity and provide access to retail amenities in target areas throughout the city.”

The MLK Capital Ignite Grants were funded through the Economic Opportunity Fund for Business Retention and Expansion, approved by the Atlanta City Council in November 2016. Under the leadership of Mayor Reed, the Invest Atlanta board of directors gave final approval for the funding in August 2017.

The grant recipients include

  • Latifah Allah, Unity Hair Salon;
  • Terrance Barron, University Barbershop;
  • Khadijah Baynes, The Beauty Industry;
  • Phoebe Dawson, Alfonzo Dawson Mortuary, Inc.;
  • Kenneth Dean, All-Pro Insurance Agency;
  • Marion Hargett, Jamal’s Buffalo Wings;
  • Imani Maisonelt, Imani’s Too Hair & More Salon;
  • Edward Martin, Murden’s Barber Shop;
  • Jaseph Moultrie, Jr., Aesthetic Ink & Design;
  • Dr. Charles Nichols, Alphia Health & Wellness Solutions;
  • Corey Reeves, Aldridge Services, Inc.;
  • Hope Stoney, Hope Health & Wellness Center;
  • Andrew Taylor, Pro-Cuts ATL; and
  • Pauline Warrior, Warnun Industries, Ltd.

Over the eight years of the Reed Administration, the City of Atlanta, the private sector, and philanthropic organizations have made unprecedented investments in historic Westside neighborhoods.

The City of Atlanta won the $30 million CHOICE Neighborhood Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, which is leveraging an additional $350 million to support historically sensitive housing and economic-development efforts, such as the Scholars Landing senior residences.

Private philanthropic efforts include the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation’s investment of more than $30 million total to fight displacement and foster economic development and job growth in Vine City and English Avenue, through programs such as Westside Works.

In 2014, Mayor Reed and members of the Atlanta Committee for Progress founded the Westside Future Fund in 2014 to coordinate public and private revitalization efforts in the historic Westside neighborhoods.

Earlier this year, the City of Atlanta and Westside Future Fund announced the new Anti-Displacement Tax Fund, which uses private philanthropic dollars to help long-time Westside residents pay any increases in property taxes and remain in their homes.

Public and private investments have led to reduced crime in Vine City and English Avenue; expanded green space and environmental infrastructure through new parks; and economic development through the new UPS regional facility on Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive and the YMCA’s new headquarters.

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