The COVID-19 pandemic has placed an enormous strain on Tennessee businesses and industries of all types. In addition, there has been a 13,000% increase in unemployment claims in the state that jumped from 3.3% in January 2020 to a staggering 14.7% in April 2020. This percentage is the highest ever reported from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced new and expanded financial relief programs for small businesses, agribusinesses, displaced workers and the tourism industry through the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. The Tennessee Small Business Relief Program will expand to include additional industries adversely impacted by reductions in commercial activity in April, with $83.5 million added to the program’s initial $200 million allotment.
Governor Bill Lee said, “We’ll continue to distribute federal resources prudently to address the pressing needs of Tennessee businesses to get our economy back on track.”
$83,517,500 of the Relief Fund has been allocated to the Expansion of Tennessee Small Business Relief Program. The program will expand to include businesses with less than $10 million in annual gross sales. These businesses must qualify as industries impacted by executive order limitations on activities, gatherings and other non-essential businesses or activities. Retail industries that experienced a 25% reduction in taxable sales during the month of April due to the pandemic are also eligible to receive the stimulus. For a complete list of eligible businesses, visit tn.gov.
$50 million has been allocated to Agriculture and Forestry Economic Relief. An economic support program for agricultural businesses and forestry businesses will be established by the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to help ensure the stability of food supply and the agribusiness economy. The department will accept applications for funding between August 17th and August 31st with grant awards to be distributed the week of September 14th.
$25 million has been allocated to Tourism Industry Recovery Support. The funds will be used to remarket and support Tennessee’s tourism industry by the Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. $15 million will be designated specifically for destination marketing organizations in all 95 counties.
$9.5 million has been allocated to Workforce Development. $7.5 million will be distributed directly to two established workforce development programs: Reemployment Service and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) Program Expansion and Career and Training Services. $2 million will go to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Virtual American Jobs Center. The funds allocated to workforce development aim to provide reemployment services to a proposed 17,000 participants to return them to gainful, sustainable employment.