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Atlanta Startup Community Gets Jolt from City and Ford Foundation

Bess Weyandt, Executive Director of Startup Atlanta, will use grant funding to create the infrastructure to support a thriving environment for entrepreneurs.
Bess Weyandt, Executive Director of Startup Atlanta, will use grant funding to create the infrastructure to support a thriving environment for entrepreneurs.

Invest Atlanta has been awarded two grants - $150,000 from the Ford Foundation and $50,000 from the City of Atlanta’s Community Development Block Grant program - to help the newly incorporated Startup Atlanta fulfill its mission to connect, support and expand Greater Atlanta’s entrepreneurial community.

 Invest Atlanta created Startup Atlanta in 2012 to cultivate the entrepreneurial ecosystem, and the organization recently became a standalone nonprofit organization.

 “We are a city of innovators and risk-takers with a long history of starting and running successful companies of all sizes,” Mayor Kasim Reed said. “We are excited to be supporting our entrepreneurs through Startup Atlanta with the financial support of these grants.”

 Brian P. McGowan, President and CEO of Invest Atlanta, said growing more successful startup businesses is critical to creating new jobs in Atlanta.

“Startup firms and new companies dominate net job creation in our country, and that is why we are focusing on how to encourage and support the creation of new businesses,” McGowan said. “Atlanta is already ranked nationally as a top city for entrepreneurship, but we know we can do more to make Atlanta an even better place to launch and grow a business.”

Bess Weyandt, Executive Director of Startup Atlanta, said the grants will enable the organization to create the infrastructure to support a thriving environment for entrepreneurs in Atlanta.

“We are grateful for the financial support from the Ford Foundation and the City of Atlanta, and we will continue to strengthen the ecosystem in Atlanta that helps startups succeed,” Weyandt said.

The Ford Foundation’s Metropolitan Opportunity program awards grants across the country to programs that reduce poverty and advance inclusive regional economic and community development. 

Part of the award will be used to develop a plan with assistance from Ohio-based JumpStart Inc., which has extensive experience throughout the country in building ecosystems that grow and nurture entrepreneurs.

“We are pleased to see Atlanta taking this important step toward gaining a better understanding of the entrepreneurial landscape throughout the region,” said Ray T. Leach, CEO of JumpStart. “We are excited about the opportunity to work with Invest Atlanta and Startup Atlanta.” 

About Invest Atlanta

Invest Atlanta is the official economic development authority for the City of Atlanta. Its purpose is to strengthen Atlanta’s economy and global competitiveness in order to create increased opportunity and prosperity for the people of Atlanta.

Chaired by the Mayor of Atlanta, and governed by a nine-member board of directors, Invest Atlanta’s programs and initiatives focus on developing and fostering public/private partnerships to create jobs, grow the economy, revitalize neighborhoods, attract investment, spur innovation, and encourage entrepreneurship. To achieve these goals, Invest Atlanta leverages the benefits of bond financing, revolving loan funds, housing financing, tax increment financing (TIF), and tax credits.   

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