United States Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) visited the SPARK Innovation Lab on Auburn Avenue the morning of Monday, May 8 to talk to local business owners about a $500,000 bipartisan-backed investment in the historic Black neighborhood’s businesses.
The half-million dollar investment is an effort to make sure the majority Black-owned businesses reap some of the good fortune many of Atlanta’s small businesses have seen as a result of the city’s growth the past decade plus.
Ossoff, a native and current resident of Atlanta, told The Atlanta Voice that the Sweet Auburn District is the “Civil Rights heartland of the country” and “as this city grows Black business and property owners that are already here need to participate in this growth.”
Standing inside the Odd Fellows Building and Auditorium at 228 Auburn Avenue, a historic property that has been owned by the Alexander-Perkins family for many years, Ossoff was flanked by a number of local business and property owners as he explained the investment. He stressed that is was supported by both sides of the aisle in Washington and that it would not be a one-time investment into this community.
“This is about making sure entrepreneurs can participate fully in the economic growth of metro Atlanta,” Ossoff said. “I want to ensure that this community continues to thrive.”
Kimberly Alexander, who was there representing the Alexander-Perkins family, which is a landlord for small businesses in the Odd Fellows Building, said about the investment, “The Sweet Auburn neighborhood is full of not only Civil Rights history, but Black business legacy.”
It is not clear how the funds will be dispersed among the businesses, but Ossoff was clear about what the funding will be used to mainly benefit.
“Small businesses are the backbone of the economy in so many ways,” Ossoff said. “This has to be part of a long-term effort.”
Small businesses such as Lash & Brown Spot, The Weave Outlet and the Sweet Auburn Bread Co., which is currently under interior construction, and Auburn Vinyl, a custom print shop, will benefit from the investment.
“We need to ensure the people that brought it this far along the way get to enjoy the benefits from this funding,” Alexander said.