Tennessee creates new $50M grant for small businesses recovering from pandemic

Coronavirus blue background
Posted at 2:41 PM, Oct 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-07 22:53:09-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee businesses have a new opportunity to get federal funding to help recover during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Gov. Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group are allocating $50 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for a new Supplemental Employer Recovery Grant. The program aims to provide specific support for minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses, as well as businesses owned by persons who are disabled.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and supporting them through these difficult times has been one of the core missions of the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group,” said Gov. Lee. “The SERG program will provide further relief to small businesses, especially those who may not have been able to access previous federal and state relief funds.”

Rhonda Shaw owns The Moving Canvas in Nashville. Her business relies on people getting together at home, where she supplies the paint and the party. For months, she found ways to hand on as social distancing made her work almost impossible. She says the funding could prover crucial for businesses just like hers to get some sense of security.

“It would definitely help me to buy my supplies again, because once revenue wasn’t coming in, I wasn’t able to continue to buy all the supplies I need. So at this point, it’s almost like starting over,” Shaw said.

Shaw plans to apply and says other than buying supplies, she has her eyes set on putting a down payment on a facility of her own.

“So I can have a place for my clients to come even if they are afraid to open their homes up or if they are wanting to be outside their home. I would be able to mandate and control the mask wearing in my own facility,” Shaw said.

Starting October 7, small business owners and nonprofit organizations can apply to receive reimbursement for eligible direct expenses related to business interruption due to the pandemic. The application will be open until December 29, 2020, or until all funds are depleted.

Eligible reimbursable expenses include costs to create social distancing measures, personal protective equipment for employees or customers, contactless equipment, payroll expenses and mortgage interest.

The state said rewards will be capped at $30,000 and will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Additionally, 10% of the funds will be reserved for eligible diversity enterprises.

For more information on the Supplemental Employer Recovery Grant, click here.