KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Funding for small businesses in Knoxville will soon be bolstered by a $6 million investment fund.

The Knoxville Chamber announced a partnership with Pathway Lending to build the $6 million 865 Opportunity Fund. Pathway Lending, a Tennessee-based nonprofit, is partnering with First Horizon, Pinnacle Financial Partners, and Regions Bank to build the fund. The program is looking for entrepreneurs that may need help growing their small businesses.

“This announcement aligns with the Chamber’s efforts to transition Knoxville’s economy,” said Nadim Jubran, entrepreneurship and small business vice chair for the Knoxville Chamber. “We are committed to retaining and attracting innovative entrepreneurs who will create high-growth companies. Supporting these business owners with increased access to capital is one of the tools to do so.”

Loans between $5,000 and $50,000 will be available to eligible small businesses. Pathway will help business owners throughout the entire process; from the application to making decisions about how to best use the funds.

“As a community development financial institution, we have the flexibility to do transactions that help underserved businesses that traditional financial institutions may not have the opportunity to help,” said Hank Helton, Executive Vice President for Pathway Lending. “It offers small businesses the opportunity to have growth. So we come in at early-stage companies, we see an opportunity for them, we take a long look forward and we help them grow their business.”

The fund is a part of an effort to expand Knoxville’s small business ecosystem. The goal is to address a funding gap identified in the Knoxville Chamber’s Capital Access Redefined report.

“Our small businesses are key to Knoxville’s future prosperity,” said Missy Wallen, Pinnacle’s chairman in Knoxville. “They fuel our economy’s growth, create opportunities and jobs for our neighbors, and shape the quality of life our communities enjoy. We’re honored at Pinnacle to champion and support small businesses through our partnerships with incredible organizations like Pathway Lending and all the community partners coming together to make this possible.”

The 865 Opportunity Fund will primarily focus on giving capital funds and business advice to black, women and veteran-owned businesses in Anderson, Blount, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Roane, Sevier, and Union counties.

To support the fund, Aaron Owen has been chosen as the new vice president of lending for the Knoxville region. The Knoxville Chamber shares he has over a decade of banking experience. Those interested in learning more about funding opportunities can contact him at (865) 321-3050 or Aaron.Owen@PathwayLending.org, or visit PathwayLending.org/865fund.