Tennessee Broadens Small Business Stimulus Program Again To Any Firm That Can Show Losses

Oct 5, 2020


Metro Public Health Department officials meet with leaders of the Nashville Nightmare haunted houses to inspect the safety precautions. Businesses like this one will be able to apply for as much as $30,000 in state stimulus money to cover losses from the pandemic or costs related to safety measures.
Credit Blake Farmer/WPLN News

Tennessee has deposited nearly $200 million into the accounts of small businesses. But the state still has more stimulus money, so it’s broadening the program and focusing more on diversity.

Starting this week, any business that has less than $10 million in annual revenue and can show losses from the pandemic or costs related to safety measures can apply for as much as $30,000 in help. That comes on the heels of a state program that helped about 25,000 small businesses see their way through the first six months of the pandemic.

“There was more need, and there was a need to get to businesses who could not qualify under the previous program,” Finance Commissioner Butch Eley said at last week’s Financial Stimulus Oversight Committee meeting.

Even in the previous rounds of state assistance, which ended last week, businesses had to show that sales had reduced in April. But some companies were rejected because they don’t pay certain business or sales taxes, which were used by the Tennessee Department of Revenue to determine if a company qualified.

There have also been consistent concerns about a lack of minority-owned firms, especially in the federal Paycheck Protection Program. So 10% of this additional funding will be earmarked for businesses owned by people of color, and the state plans to conduct an outreach campaign to increase awareness.

The program will now require an application, which is not yet online. That will take more time but also allow businesses to make their case for money. The previous rounds simply required those deemed eligible to opt in and verify their losses.

For now, $50 million has been allocated for this latest round of small business help, and even companies that have received money in prior rounds could be eligible for more if their losses warrant it. State officials expect the money to be available for about a month but say they hope to put any leftover federal stimulus money into this program.

Distributed So Far

  • Roughly 25,000 small businesses have received deposits
  • 2,669 payments have gone to minority-owned firms
  • 4,700 women-owned businesses have received help
  • Average stimulus is $7,200
  • 70% of payments have been issued to companies with less than $500,000
  • 70% of payments issued to biz under 500l000 sales
  • To date, 1,500 have been denied, mostly because their business did not fit the state’s parameters

The initial program announced in June focused on businesses that were required to close early in the pandemic. Barbershops, bars, gyms and amusement parks were eligible for the money, based on confidential tax information the state already had on file. And they could get the money even if they had also received help from the federal Paycheck Protection Program.

In mid-August, the program expanded to companies ranging from rental companies to tire distributors that could show a 25% drop in sales for April.

The newest round of help is based on losses or costs from May to August, and companies that have already received state help could be eligible for more.

This story was reported by WPLN