Wells Fargo supports Atlanta-based Small Businesses with $20 Million

US banking giant Wells Fargo has continued to play its part in ensuring that small businesses with great potential grow beyond their current state. Last month, the bank set aside $20 million to help boost small businesses in Atlanta through its Open for Business Fund which was created to help local small businesses build assets and upgrade their services.

The announcement was made earlier in January by the Wells Fargo leadership, together with, Mayor Andre Dickens of Atlanta. The funding will be distributed by the United Way of Greater Atlanta and Invest Atlanta in the form of grants and loans to business owners within the city. According to an official news release by the Atlanta government, the fund will be administered toward four initiatives:

·         “Small Business Loan Fund: low-cost loans, capped at an interest rate of 3%, are designated to help small businesses grow ownership of tangible assets.”

·         “Asset Building Assistance: working with nonprofit organizations, including in south and west Atlanta, this effort will enlist experts to craft asset-building strategies for roughly 200 small businesses, such as moving from renting or leasing commercial space to owning it.”

·         “Façade Improvement Grants: grants of up to $50,000 for exterior improvements for small businesses that give 20% match to their project.”

·         Commercial Ownership Growth: capital to help small business owners facing rising rental costs, including down payment assistance grants of up to $200,000 to purchase commercial real estate.

"This Wells Fargo grant program gives small business owners the opportunity to grow and expand by owning more of their own assets—which can be a game-changer for the financial health of any business," Mayor Dickens said, during the announcement. "As a former small business owner, I understand the vital role of small businesses in Atlanta's economy and community, and we are excited to announce the program in the first few weeks of our new administration.”

The Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund is a $400 million company created by the bank in July 2020. It was created from Wells Fargo's gross processing fees which were made from administering Paycheck Protection Program loans in 2020. The fund was set up to help small businesses survive the pandemic, with a focus on racially and ethnically diverse and small businesses. The bank has so far collaborated with Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and local nonprofits across the United States to distribute funding to small business owners.

Charlie Scharf, Wells Fargo's CEO said the bank has a passion for small businesses and has made it a goal to help these businesses thrive since the pandemic. He added that the bank is committed to making the communities where they operate stronger, "and to do it at a very local level. Making Atlanta a large donation – one of the largest donations we’ve made from the Open for Business Fund – was important to us. We know it will make a difference for small business owners here.”

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