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Mad Priest, Blue Ivy receive city grants

Chattanooga's Industrial Development Board voted Monday to award Mad Priest Coffee and Cocktails a grant for $8,400 to reimburse the cost of some equipment purchases related to their new restaurant.

When the city created the Growing Small Business grants in 2015, they focused on funding new job creation, but there was also a provision that allowed for some reimbursement of equipment purchases, said Jermaine Freeman, the city's economic development officer. "That provision had never been used before, and we weren't really sure why," Freeman said in recommending the business for the grant award. "Since the restaurant opened in October 2018, we are offering this (grant) for the creation of 11 full-time jobs and some equipment acquisition."

The new equipment purchases were part of the launch of a new restaurant on Cherry Street, which owner Michael Rice told the board he and his partners funded through a Kickstarter campaign and loans. Rice told the board that he has three bottom lines — social, environmental and economic. The investments of time and resources in social and environmental causes may take away from the economic bottom line, but "I'm willing to take that cut," Rice said.

The board also awarded a $1,000 construction mitigation grant to Blue Ivy Flowers on Patten Parkway to compensate for the disruption during the year-long project to transform the street. "All of the businesses do still have sidewalk access, but people may think the business isn't open," Freeman told the board.

The $4.9 million construction project, which began in August 2019 and is expected to last through August 2020, is intended to turn the road into an open-air plaza that is friendlier to pedestrian traffic.

 

Gas prices should drop in December

Motorists heading home after the long Thanksgiving holiday this year paid about 15 cents per gallon more for gasoline than a year ago, although gas prices in Chattanooga remain 37 cents per gallon below the U.S. average, according to the daily survey of U.S. gas stations released Monday by GasBuddy.com.

In Chattanooga, gas prices averaged $2.21 per gallon for regular fuel at the start of the week, which was down 0.3 cents per gallon from a week earlier and 0.4 cents less than a month ago. Nationwide, the average price of gasoline fell 1.6 cents per gallon in the past week to an average of $2.58 per gallon, GasBuddy.com surveys show.

As December begins, GasBuddy.com analysts expect fuel prices could fall farther in coming weeks.

"Aside from a possible trade deal that has been elusive for nearly 16 months, gas prices typically trend lower during the month as refiners continue to increase throughput after maintenance season and as overall weather curbs gasoline demand, easing prices," said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

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