Grants provide lifeline for many small businesses

Tosin Fakile talks to small business owners who received grants that will help them continue to stay open.
Published: Sep. 14, 2022 at 7:13 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 14, 2022 at 7:15 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Nashville small businesses still need help to keep going and it’s evident with how quickly the $9 million in grant money given by the Metro Government was gone.

In February, Metro allotted $20 million to help Davidson County small businesses. Of that, $9 million was for grants that small businesses applied for and Pathway Lending, the organization overseeing the distribution, said the money was gone fast.

Pathway Lending said over 1,400 small businesses applied for the grant money and 468 received money distributed from the grant. Businesses that got grant funds received about $17,500.

For many small businesses, those funds were a life saver.

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

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

The family business by the Nashville Shores Marina in Hermitage said keeping the good barbecue going and customers through the door hasn’t been easy.

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

He said they didn’t lay anyone off and didn’t cut any employees’ salaries.

“What we’ve decided to do is pay the people that work with us, pay them well and treat them well, and we’ve been able to settle into some great employees that are staying in here with us,” Turney said.

Money from the Nashville Small Business Recovery Grant was major for the barbecue joint. Mike Turney said it helped buy a refrigerator to increase their storage space.

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

“We opened up the grants on June 29 and by July 15 the money was practically gone from all of the pool, Thomas Sheffield, Director of Nashville Opportunity Fund with Pathway Lending, said. “That really over-emphasizes the need for help for the small business community.”

Even though the grant money is exhausted, Pathway Lending said there is $9 million in loans Metro has available now that small businesses can apply for.

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

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

Turney encourages businesses to reach out to Pathway Lending to help figure out what their needs are.

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

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

“I’ve had several friends that this past year, that just gave up,” Turney said. “They just decided I need to feed my family so I’m better off selling the business and close the business and go with Plan B to take care of my family.”

Pathway Lending is hoping more financial help comes the way of Davidson County small business owners.