Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced the City of Atlanta will join the City Accelerator program, an initiative of the Citi Foundation and Living Cities, to foster innovation and promote collaboration between urban leaders to address pressing issues cities face today. Atlanta will join four other cities in this latest City Accelerator cohort – El Paso, Long Beach, Newark and Rochester – who will work together over the next year to pursue a range of projects that support the growth of local minority-owned businesses and the creation of additional jobs in each community.
"Creating innovative ways to build opportunity and equity through job growth, business incubation and workforce training is a priority for our Administration and our city," said Mayor Bottoms. "Our vision for One Atlanta includes a city where neighborhoods, communities and businesses thrive. We look forward to working with the Citi Foundation and Living Cities through the City Accelerator to realize that goal."
The City Accelerator program includes a $100,000 grant to each cohort city to support local business and job growth. The City of Atlanta’s initiative will fund a program providing access to affordable real estate and technical assistance to economically underserved businesses in Southwest Atlanta. The initiative will be launched at Pittsburgh Yards™, a 30-acre, mixed-use site under development in Southwest Atlanta. Invest Atlanta, the City of Atlanta’s economic development authority, will lead the project in partnership with One Atlanta: The Mayor’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, the Mayor’s Office of Innovation and Performance and local community Partner, The Annie E. Casey Foundation.
“The Annie E. Casey Foundation’s focus in redeveloping Pittsburgh Yards has always been on providing more equitable opportunities for residents in Southwest Atlanta,” said Kweku Forstall, Director of the Foundation’s Atlanta Civic Site. “We’re excited that this funding has been secured and hopeful that it will seed meaningful activity for entrepreneurs in Pittsburgh and surrounding communities.”
The Annie E. Casey Foundation serves as the primary developer of Pittsburgh Yards as well as an impact investor in social service, workforce development, and financial programs for the Pittsburgh community. Through this strategic partnership, they will provide additional visionary support to redevelop Pittsburgh Yards into a commercial, industrial, and retail site on the Atlanta Beltline. Additionally, several commercial spaces at Pittsburgh Yards will be reserved for purchase by small business owners who are selected to participate in the program.
“To achieve and sustain equitable growth, we need to ensure that businesses across the city have access to the resources and assistance they need to compete in Atlanta’s growing economy,” continued Mayor Bottoms. “The real estate development program at Pittsburgh Yards will be a catalytic project to spur economic activity in Southwest Atlanta communities by creating new opportunities for area business owners and emerging enterprises.”
The program 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. In addition to providing access to affordable commercial space at Pittsburgh Yards, the project team will offer technical assistance to help sole proprietorships increase business value by expanding hiring opportunities.
All five cities selected for this Accelerator program are considered majority-minority communities based on socio-economic makeup, where more than 50 percent of a city’s population represents social, ethnic and/or racial minorities. This classification is primary for urban centers to address the barriers minority-owned businesses face, including access to capital, connections to industries, and navigating regulations.
"Cities can have a disproportionately positive impact on local entrepreneurial ecosystems and the creation of good jobs”, said Living Cities President and CEO Ben Hecht. “The cities in this latest initiative will be showing how they can harness all of their assets to support and grow businesses owned by the nation’s fastest-growing populations—people of color—and help to close racial gaps in wealth and income in their own backyards.”
In addition to a $100,000 grant, each city will receive a combination of coaching, technical assistance and implementation resources in the coming year. Technical assistance for the effort will be provided by Rodrick Miller, President and CEO of Ascendant Global, an economic development consulting firm. Miller has previously served as the President and CEO of the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation and the New Orleans Business Alliance.
To learn more about the City of Atlanta’s project, visit the City Accelerator website here, and follow #CityAccelerator on Twitter.