NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Last year was a tough year for Tennessee financially.

Between devastating tornadoes, a global pandemic shutdown and racial protests, businesses had a hard time picking up the pieces. 

But surprisingly, it wasn’t all bad. 

In the state of Tennessee, consumers spent a record $739 million with diversity owned businesses — that's up 11 percent from last year. 

In the unprecedented times, business owners had to rethink their strategies.

While the state and the governor's office say many businesses were either forced to close or lay off employees, it was increasing their marketing and awareness that kept so many afloat. 

"There isn’t any magic potion out there, it’s just a lot of effort and trying to understand the business and knowing where their strengths are," said Richard Van Norman, diversity business liaison with the Governor’s Office of Diversity. "We want them to be successful. When they are, the whole state is, as well."

Since 2004, local business owned by minorities, women and people with disabilities have seen an annual increase in state spending. Although it wasn’t likely or expected this year. 

"Some of these small businesses have changed what they are providing. So they are adapting to this time," Van Norman said. "Some of things they are providing are things they have never even thought about before — and a lot of it has to do with the medical side."

While brick and mortar stores have suffered, business owners are taking advantage of online opportunities like selling on social media and running their companies from their homes. 

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Meteorologist / Reporter

Melanie Layden is the weekend morning meteorologist at WSMV. She also has a segment during the week called "Growing Nashville" where she covers the growth of Music City. Melanie has been Working 4 You since 2014.

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