Gov. Lee announces new $200 million small-business relief program


NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Gov. Bill Lee announced a new relief program Tuesday for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tennessee Business Relief Program will direct approximately $200 million in federal coronavirus relief funding through the Department of Revenue to small businesses that qualify. The program awards will be based on the annual gross sales of the business.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has created immense economic pain across our state and especially among small businesses that faced temporary closure,” Lee said. “As we responsibly steward our federal stimulus money we have worked to quickly prioritize our small businesses, and I thank the work of the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group for their partnership in this.”

Roughly 28,000 Tennessee businesses are expected to qualify according to a release from the state, with more than 73% of those businesses earning annual gross sales of $500,000 or less.

“While the COVID-19 crisis started as a public health crisis, the economic crisis it triggered is in some ways even more devastating. The burden the virus has placed on small businesses has been substantial,” said Lt. Gov. McNally (R-Oak Ridge). “Jobs have been lost. Savings accounts have been drained. Credit has been stretched. Small businesses need this relief more than anyone.

“I was proud to be a part of formulating this plan along with my fellow Financial Accountability group members, particularly Sen. Bo Watson (R-Hixson) and Sen. Raumesh Akbari (D-Memphis). I am hopeful this program will soon be expanded to include nonprofits, trade groups and chambers of commerce. These organizations are critical to our economic revival and I look forward to seeing them included in the next phase.”

Lieutenant Governor Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge).

“Our recovery from this economic disruption will be a slow process. But without small business, it doesn’t happen at all. I am grateful for this opportunity to put our most at-risk businesses on a path to stability and prosperity.”

Small businesses eligible under the program include:

  • Barbershops, beauty shops and nail salons
  • Tattoo parlors, spas, and other personal care services
  • Gyms and fitness centers
  • Restaurants and bars
  • Hotels and other travel accommodations
  • Theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers and similar facilities
  • Museums, zoos, and other similar attractions
  • Amusement parks
  • Bowling centers and arcades
  • Marinas
  • Amusement, sports and recreational industries
  • Promoters of performing arts, sports, and similar events
  • Agents and managers of artists, athletes, and entertainers
  • Independent artists, writers, and performers

Certain stores are also eligible if their sales were reduced by at least 25%, as shown on their April sales tax returns that were filed in May.

Those stores include:

  • Furniture stores
  • Home furnishing stores
  • Clothing stores
  • Shoe stores
  • Jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores
  • Sporting goods, hobby and musical instrument stores
  • Book stores
  • Department stores
  • Office supply, stationery and gift stores
  • Used merchandise stores
  • Other miscellaneous stores

More details will be posted on the Department of Revenue’s website in the coming days.

“Our small businesses drive our local and statewide economies, and their success is critical to our continued, swift economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,” House Speaker Cameron Sexton (R-Crossville) said.. “I am pleased to join with Rep. (Pat) Marsh (R-Shelbyville), Rep. (Harold) Love (D-Nashville) and members of the Financial Accountability Group to support all those businesses who have been adversely affected by these extraordinary circumstances through this program so they remain successful.”

The Financial Stimulus Accountability Group includes Lt. Gov. McNally, Speaker Sexton, Comptroller Justin Wilson, Sens. Akbari and Watson, and Reps. Love and Marsh.


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