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The Scoop – AthensWorks

Coalition launches initiative to support Athens businesses

By Johnathan McGinty

The character of a community is tested during a crisis, and the city of Athens is no different. The COVID-19 pandemic has shuttered popular bars and restaurants, shifted classes at the University of Georgia online and introduced many people to the world of Zoom.

Athens responded aggressively to fight the spread of the coronavirus, issuing one of the first shelter-in-place orders in the state, and its local businesses quickly pivoted to try and adapt to the “new normal” that confronts our world. Still, the economic slowdown resulting from social distancing threatens the viability of many businesses.

That’s why a coalition of local organizations and businesses have launched the Athens Works Initiative. Spearheaded by Envision Athens and the Athens Area Chamber of Commerce, the new program aims to flatten a different kind of curve – that of economic loss. The project is encouraging residents and essential businesses to pledge a small portion of their income or revenue to support the dynamic local restaurant scene that is crucial to the community’s culture.

“Local businesses are vital to our community,” said Fenwick Broyard, a community organizer working with the initiative. “They work day in and day out to make Athens home for all of us. We want them to know they’re valued members of our community, and we believe the best way to do this is by supporting them financially during this time.”

The program works by having “supporters” (Athens residents) commit to buying goods from “contributors” (essential businesses), who pledge to buy pre-packaged meals from “providers” (local restaurants that are dealing with economic hardships caused by the pandemic).

Nearly 50 businesses already have signed up, including Terrapin Beer Company.

“Community is one of our four brand pillars and a key aspect of our Terraprint initiative,” said Dustin Watts, the company’s president. “At no time has ‘community’ meant more than now. Help us support the local restaurants and businesses that have served us over the years so that they can continue serving Athens for years to come.”

Visit the Athens Works Initiative website to learn how you can get involved in supporting local businesses across the community.