Gov. Bill Lee and the financial stimulus accountability group announced an initial $50 million in federal coronavirus relief funds for the new supplemental employer recovery grant program to provide additional relief to small businesses suffering during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The new wave of funding includes specific support for minority-owned, women-owned and veteran-owned businesses, as well as businesses owned by disabled people.
“Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, and supporting them through these difficult times has been one of the core missions of the financial stimulus accountability group,” said Lee. “The SERG program will provide further relief to small businesses, especially those who may not have been able to access previous federal and state relief funds.”
Small business owners and nonprofit organizations can apply to receive reimbursement for eligible direct expenses or costs incurred as a result of business interruption due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The coronavirus has placed an inordinate burden on our small business owners. These businesses are critical economic drivers and the most vulnerable during times of crisis,” said Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge. “I was grateful for the opportunity to work with my colleagues on the financial stimulus accountability group to provide this relief to businesses in need.”
The program’s application window opened Oct. 7 and will remain open until Dec. 29 or until all funds are depleted.
“We have stood with our businesses by initiating the small business relief program, and stabilizing the unemployment trust fund, and [this] announcement is yet another targeted solution to strengthen the Tennessee business community’s ongoing recovery efforts,” said House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville. “All of these programs support our minority, women, disabled and service-disabled veteran business owners who are suffering during these extraordinary times. We need them to remain open and to thrive, and I applaud our stimulus accountability group for helping all Tennessee businesses get back up on their feet so they remain successful.”
Funds will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis. Awards will be capped at $30,000. Businesses in low- to moderate-income census tracts, opportunity zones or promise zones will receive an additional $500 added to the maximum allowable expenses.
Ten percent of all funds distributed through the program will be reserved for eligible diversity business enterprises, classified as minority business enterprises, women business enterprises or service-disabled veteran business enterprises and enterprises owned by disabled persons.
The period for reimbursable expenses will be May 1 through Aug. 31. Eligible expenses and business interruption costs include, but are not limited to:
• costs to create social distancing measures.
• purchasing personal protective equipment for employees or customers.
• contactless equipment.
• payroll expenses.
• mortgage interest.
The SERG program follows the previously allocated $300 million for more than 40,000 qualifying businesses under the Tennessee business relief program.