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Big business may pull the political strings in Atlanta, but small business drives much of the economy and culture. Four of the candidates for City Council president were grilled on ways to help the sector at a Sept. 25 forum, one of a small-business series hosted by the Old Fourth Ward Business Association.
Among the topics were speeding up permits and licenses, affordability of commercial spaces, and supporting nightlife.
Participants included Natalyn Archibong, the current District 5 City Council member; Courtney English, former Atlanta Board of Education chair and now an executive at a nonprofit that provides wrap-around services to apartment complex tenants; Mike Russell, a former U.S. Army officer who runs an online gift business; and Doug Shipman, former CEO of the Woodruff Arts Center and the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. Another candidate running on the Nov. 2 ballot, Sam Manuel, did not participate.
Question-asking panelists included Sean Keenan of SaportaReport’s sister news outlet Atlanta Civic Circle and Mike Jordan, editor in chief of the culture and news social media channel Butter.ATL.
While the candidates agreed that life needs to be easier for small businesses, the forum teased out some differences in their approaches. The following were their takes on some key issues.