Grants a lifeline for many small businesses

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Nashville’s small businesses still need help to keep going and it’s evident with how quickly the $9 million in grants from the metropolitan government have disappeared.

In February, Metro allocated $20 million to help small businesses in Davidson County. Of that amount, $9 million was for grants requested by small businesses and Pathway Lending, the organization that oversees distribution, said the money was gone quickly.

Pathway Lending said more than 1,400 small businesses have applied for the grant and 468 have received money distributed from the grant. Companies that were awarded grants received approximately $17,500.

For many small businesses, these funds have been a lifesaver.

“It was a real blessing when this money became available,” said Mike Turney, one of the owners of Papa Turney’s Barbecue in Hermitage.

Turney said her family didn’t get any of the PPP loans the federal government had available at the start of the pandemic, and they were devastated. Then they were surprised but grateful for the grant from Metro.

The family-owned Nashville Shores Marina in Hermitage said it’s not easy to keep the grill going and customers coming through the door.

“Cash flow for one thing and I guess one of the biggest things was labor,” Turney said. “There were no employees and people were jumping from job to job for pennies. You could pay $20 an hour and they would quit that job for $20.50.

He said they did not lay off anyone and did not reduce the wages of any employee.

“What we’ve decided to do is pay the people who work with us, pay them well and treat them well, and we’ve been able to settle in with some great people who stay here with us,” he said. said Turney.

The Nashville Small Business Stimulus Grant money has been big for the barbecue. Mike Turney said it helped buy a fridge to increase their storage space.

“You have meat suppliers who may have a special on the brisket or the ribs, but if you don’t have the storage room, even if you have the money, you can’t capitalize on that opportunity,” said said Turney. “That’s what those fridges were giving us at that time.”

“We opened the grants on June 29, and by July 15 the money was pretty much gone from the entire pool,” said Thomas Sheffield, director of the Nashville Opportunity Fund with Pathway Lending. “This really puts too much emphasis on the need for help for the small business community.”

Even though the grant money has run out, Pathway Lending said there are $9 million in loans Metro has available now for small businesses to apply for.

“The wonderful thing about these loans is that they are 2% interest loans,” Sheffield said.

Pathway said small business borrowers will pay 2% fixed interest on loans up to $200,000 and there is no deadline to apply. Pathway said businesses that received the grant will not be able to obtain the percentage loan.

Turney encourages companies to contact Pathway Lending to help them determine what their needs are.

“See what’s available there, because there are still things out there to help those businesses that need help,” Turney said. “Do your research and call and ask the questions.”

Turney is happy to keep his doors open, but knows the small business journey isn’t easy.

“I had several friends who in the last year just gave up,” Turney said. “They just decided I had to feed my family, so I better sell the business and close the business and go for plan B to take care of my family.”

Pathway Lending hopes more financial help will come to Davidson County small business owners.

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