By David Knox
Financial help is on the way for small businesses.
Tennessee Governor Bill Lee, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, House Speaker Cameron Sexton, and the Financial Stimulus Accountability Group announced a new relief program for Tennessee businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Tennessee Business Relief Program will direct approximately $200 million in federal Coronavirus Relief Funds through the Department of Revenue directly to small businesses that qualify.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has created immense economic pain across our state and especially among small businesses that faced temporary closure,” said Lee. “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.”
Metro Lynchburg Moore County Mayor Bonnie Lewis said this is welcome news.
“The exact details of how much money a business will receive will be on the Tennessee Department of Revenue website soon,” said Lewis. “I have worried about our small businesses that were forced to closed and still have not come back 100%. Hopefully, this will help fill the gap a little. The money is coming from the Federal Coronavirus Relief Fund. The Tennessee financial stimulus group is directing the almost $200 million to be paid small businesses based on their annual sales and the loss occurred. When they release what the formula is for figuring the payments, the money will be directly deposited into their bank account if that is how they normally pay their state sales tax or they will receive a check if not. Businesses will not have to apply for the assistance, the amounts will be figured and paid,” she said.
McNally said the state is well aware of the damage that has been done to small businesses.
“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 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 and Sen. Raumesh Akbari. I am hopeful this program will soon be expanded to include non-profits, 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. 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.”
Roughly 28,000 Tennessee businesses are expected to qualify, with more than 73% of those businesses earning annual gross sales of $500,000 or less.
The following types of small businesses are eligible under the program:
- Bowling centers and arcades
- Amusement, sports and recreational industries
- Promoters of performing arts, sports, and similar events
- Agents and managers of artists, athletes, and entertainers
And independent artists, writers, and performers
In addition, the following small businesses are eligible if their sales were reduced by at least 25%, as shown on their April sales tax returns (filed in May):
- Book stores
- Department stores
- Office supply, stationery and gift stores
- Used merchandise stores
And other miscellaneous stores