The Center Square [By Vivian Jones]-
Expanding relief for small businesses struggling because of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Tennessee announced $50 million in new small business grants Wednesday.
Ten percent of the funds are earmarked for businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans and disabled people.
Grants up to $30,000 will be available to reimburse small businesses and nonprofits for eligible expenses incurred between May 1 and Aug. 31, 2020 related to the pandemic. Expenses eligible for reimbursement include costs to enable social distancing, personal protective equipment purchases, contactless equipment expenses, payroll expenses and mortgage interest.
“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. Bill Lee, noting the program will seek to provide aid to businesses not eligible for previous federal funding.
An online application for the program launched Wednesday, and business owners have until Dec. 29, or until all funds are exhausted, to apply for the grant.
“We have stood with our businesses by initiating the Small Business Relief Program, and stabilizing the Unemployment Trust Fund, and today’s announcement is yet another targeted solution to strengthen the Tennessee business community’s ongoing recovery efforts,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, said. “All of these programs support our minority, women, disabled and service-disabled veteran business owners who are suffering during these extraordinary times.”
The $50 million in Supplemental Employer Recovery Grants, funded with federal pandemic relief dollars, comes as a follow-up to the state’s $283 million Business Relief Program, which distributed 26,774 payments. The deadline for businesses to certify for funds from the Business Relief Program passed last month, and the program will close in the coming weeks.