NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) – Nashville’s small businesses still need help to stay afloat, and it’s clear how quickly the $9 million in aid money awarded by Metro Government has gone.
In February, Metro Davidson County allocated $20 million to help small businesses. Of that, $9 million was for aid that small businesses applied for, and Pathway Lending, which oversees the distribution, said the money quickly disappeared.
According to Pathway Lending, more than 1,400 small businesses applied for the grant, and 468 received disbursements from the grant. Businesses that received grant funding received approximately $17,500.
For many small businesses, those funds have been a lifesaver.
“When that money came in, it was a real blessing,” said Mike Turney, one of the owners of Papa Turney’s Barbecue in Hermitage.
Turney said his family did not receive any PPP loans from the federal government during the outbreak and were devastated by this. Then they were surprised but grateful for the help from Metro.
Keeping the good barbecue going and customers in the door hasn’t been easy for the family business at the Nashville Beach Marina in Hermitage.
“For one thing, cash flow and I think one of the most important things was manpower,” Turney said. “There were no workers and people were jumping from job to job on a dime. You could pay $20 an hour and they’d leave that job for $20.50.”
He said that they did not lay off anyone and did not cut the salary of any employee.
“We decided to pay, pay well and treat the people who work with us well, and we’ve been able to have good employees who stay with us,” Turney said.
The money from the Nashville Small Business Recovery Grant was huge for the barbecue joint. Mike Turney said he bought a refrigerator to increase their storage space.
“You have meat vendors that specialize in brisket or ribs, but if you don’t have the storage space, even if you have the money, you can’t take advantage of that opportunity,” Turney said. “That’s what those refrigerators gave us back then.”
“We opened the grant on June 29 and by July 15 the money was gone from the pool,” said Thomas Sheffield, director of the Nashville Opportunity Fund with Pathway Loans. “This really emphasizes the importance of assistance to the small business community.”
Although the grant money has dried up, Pathway Lending has a $9 million loan that Metro small businesses can now apply for.
“The amazing thing about these loans is that they are 2% interest loans,” Sheffield said.
Pathway said small business borrowers pay 2% fixed interest on loans up to $200,000 and there is no deadline to apply. Pattway said businesses that receive the grant will not receive a percentage of the loan.
Turney encourages businesses to reach out to Pathway Lending to help them figure out what their needs are.
“Look at what’s out there because there are still things out there to help these businesses that need help,” Turney said. “Do research and call and ask questions.”
Turney is excited to open the door, but knows small business travel isn’t easy.
“I had a lot of friends who gave up last year,” Turney said. “They decided I needed to feed my family so I could better sell the business and go with Plan B to close the business and take care of my family.”
Pathway Lending hopes more financial assistance will come the way of small business owners in Davidson County.
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