November 17, 2020
There’s a lot of real, negative feelings about the curse that 2020 seems to bear. And for millions of people, there’s been a major upset to their work, lifestyles, income, and future.
Atlanta is no exception.
The unemployment rate was at an all-time low of 3.2% last year and rose to now 8.5% (over 300,000 people).
52,000 Atlanta public school students started the year online with outages, lacking reliable wifi and other insecurities with their homes, meals and access to technology.
According to a report from Yelp, the Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell metro area had 2,333 business closures, both temporary and permanent, between March 1 and July 10. The report found 292 restaurants and 240 retails businesses have permanently closed.
And there is some good news.
The sense of community awareness and generosity has grown significantly in our city throughout the course of this year.
Maybe most visible was the generosity of the Atlanta Hawks during the election a few weeks ago. They opened their stadium as a voting location and fully funded 300 workers for the facility.
Another notable Atlanta native, Tyler Perry has been caught paying for groceries in 73 supermarket locations for elderly and in-need residents throughout this year. His on-going generosity was recognized this week when he was honored as “The People’s Champion of 2020” award at the E! People’s Choice Awards.
But on the local level, we’re seeing just as much outreach from everyday Atlantans.
Operation Feed, a group started by a phone call from a 5th-grade teacher to a parent, raised more than $30,000 to support hundreds of mostly Latino families with groceries, baby items, and household supplies since April in the Central Village Mobile Home Park and North Atlanta neighborhoods.
The International Community Charter School in Decatur, a school that serves many low-income families and refugee groups, was able to raise over $14,000 in resources to sustain these families with basics this year and also organize as a coalition to provide help with food, technology for students, medical care and finances.
RedefinED Atlanta, a nonprofit focused on high-quality public education has provided $100,000 in Covid-19 funds to Atlanta Public Schools’ families. In the first three hours, these funds were made available, over 350 parents applied for help with rent, bills, and other urgent needs. 174 families, many from the Thomasville Heights community in Atlanta were among those to receive aid.
And while needs are still great and thousands are still in need of steady employment and stable working/learning conditions, Atlanta has also remained a strong player in several industries and continues to rise a city on a national stage.
During this period, Georgia earned new top rankings:
• No. 1 Business Climate for a record-setting eighth year by Site Selection
• “Top State for Doing Business” for the seventh consecutive year by Area Development
• “E Star Award” for Export Services for and unprecedented fourth year from U.S. Department of Commerce
• No. 1 State for Aerospace Manufacturing Attractiveness by Pricewaterhouse (PwC)
• No. 1 Tech Hub & No. 1 in Film Production by Business Facilities magazine.
We’re not out of the woods or above the fray but there are good things happening in 2020 and our city is better because of what the crisis has created in the community and connection with its people.
Mother and community activist Michelle Ampong said, “[this crisis and breakdown in community] drives people to build their village.” “We need to invest in our communities for times like this. Hopefully, we will all come back even stronger…”