In 2018, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced that the City of Atlanta would join the City Accelerator program, an initiative of the Citi Foundation and Living Cities, and receive $100,000 in grant funding to support small businesses and job growth. Invest Atlanta, the City’s official economic development authority, and The Guild initiative, have joined forces to utilize that funding.
Last week, Invest Atlanta and The Guild announced a strategic partnership to launch Accelerate Southside, a new program for minority-owned businesses in the City of Atlanta. Accelerate Southside is designed to assist minority-owned businesses located on the Southside with business acceleration, growth, and owning space as a wealth building tool. will help address four major challenges experienced by minority-owned businesses: limited access to capital based on traditional underwriting criteria, debt service payment capabilities, difficulty purchasing commercial space, and preparing for business growth.
“With an estimated 3,300 businesses that generate $3 billion in revenue and employ more than 43,000 people, Atlanta’s Southside neighborhoods are poised for new investment and business growth,” said Eloisa Klementich, president and CEO at Invest Atlanta. “Invest Atlanta focuses on creating and implementing programming that supports entrepreneurs and existing businesses in our communities to create a stronger citywide economy. Accelerate Southside in partnership with The Guild is one of many ways we are working to achieve this goal and facilitate entrepreneurship in more Atlanta communities.”
Accelerate Southside is a two-part pilot program that includes an immersive business accelerator training offered by The Guild (2019 Community Wealth Building Business Accelerator) and a commercial down payment assistance program offered by Invest Atlanta. With a focus on the 30-acre Pittsburgh Yards™ redevelopment site located on the Atlanta Beltline Southside Trail, the program will support entrepreneurs interested in purchasing a shipping container to locate at the Pittsburgh Yards Shipping Container Courtyard.
“After meeting with dozens of business owners on the Southside, it became apparent that there is a pressing need to create new programs and products to address the risk of business displacement and lack of accessible capital to start and grow businesses,” said Erika Smith, Southside Community & Economic Development manager at Invest Atlanta. “Accelerate Southside will provide technical assistance to help address those needs and challenges so that these businesses have the opportunity to grow, purchase commercial property, and establish themselves in a high-demand area. Our goal is to preserve and grow businesses who have chosen to locate in the Southside.”
The Guild, a co-living organization that targets social entrepreneurs and changemakers, is focused on community wealth building strategies that aim to improve the ability of communities to increase asset ownership, anchor jobs locally, and build economic resilience.
“Partnering with Invest Atlanta for Accelerate Southside allows us to address issues that are key priorities for both of our organizations and critical to the success of minority-owned small businesses in Atlanta,” said Nikishka Iyengar, founder and CEO at The Guild. “The goal is to help these businesses boost viability and sustainability, open new locations, and to build wealth in their communities.”
Applications for the program are now open and minority-owned small businesses are encouraged to apply. Visit investatlanta.com/accelerate-southside for more information.