McDonough approves business relief program

Photo of the Henry County Courthouse in spring (staff photo)

The McDonough city council held a special called meeting on Monday, March 30. The council approved a business relief program to aid businesses within the city.

The application for business owners is now available on the city website.

The program was drafted last week through collaboration between Mayor Billy Copeland, Mayor Pro Temp Craig Elrod, council members Benjamin Pruett and Rufus Stewart. Elrod described the program as a way to “bridge the gap between now and the federal stimulus.” He estimated funds for the program could reach business owners by the end of the week.

The council approved the transfer of $150,000 from the city’s general fund to the downtown development authority to manage the program. A local bank has agreed to administer the loan at no cost to the city or DDA.

Requirements to be eligible for the loan include the following:

  • the business must hold a 2020 occupational tax permit within the city of McDonough.
  • the business has at least one full-time employee or independent contractor in addition to the business owner.
  • the business cannot be owned by a member or immediate family member of the city council or downtown development authority board.
  • the business cannot be delinquent on any fees or revenues owed to the city.

The maximum loan amount is $3,000. If each business received the maximum amount, the city could assist fifty businesses. The funds are allocated sixty percent for businesses within the downtown district and forty percent for businesses within the rest of the city.

Council members Sandra Vincent and Kam Varner expressed concerns about the 60 / 40 split and requested the funds be split evenly to benefit businesses throughout the city. Mayor Copeland described the situation as a threat to “the integrity of the square” and survival mode for local businesses. He supported leaving the distribution as proposed.

A supplemental motion to amend the motion to remove the distribution was made by councilwoman Vincent but failed to receive a second. The original motion to approve the program passed five in favor, one opposed (Vincent), and one no-vote due to technical difficulties (Varner).

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