Tennessee Awards First Round of Main Street Entrepreneur Grants

Tennessee has named six communities as awardees in the first round of Tennessee Main Street Entrepreneur Grants being awarded to encourage business growth in established downtown commercial districts.

TN Main Street

TN Main Street (photo – tnecd.com)

Specifically, the grants of $50,000 each will be used to provide startup space and training for entrepreneurs in the downtown commercial districts of Bristol, Cleveland, Columbia, Jackson, Morristown and Savannah.

For instance, Believe in Bristol will use the grant to provide a nine-week CO.STARTERS course for entrepreneurs investing in downtown Bristol, host a business pitch day including local independent community investors and developers and make improvements to their existing co-working office, IdeaSpace.

MainStreet Cleveland will likewise use the grant to restore a 1902 building recently purchased by the city of Cleveland, TN where it plans to establish a mixed-use, multi-tenant business incubator for startup entrepreneurs.

Columbia Main Street will similarly use the grant funding to equip an Entrepreneur Co-Work Center in the downtown district to provide shared work space, equipment and Internet, a training room and training opportunities.

Another $50,000 grant will support an innovative Jackson economic development project being undertaken by the city’s Downtown Development Corporation to create three new retail storefronts for entrepreneurs on vacant lots utilizing repurposed shipping containers. Partners helping the Jackson DDC in this project include theCO, the city of Jackson and University of Memphis Lambuth.

Similarly, Morristown’s Crossroads Downtown Partnership will create three co-working spaces in the downtown commercial district in partnership with the City, the Morristown Chamber, Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, and educational institutions in the region.

Lastly, Savannah Main Street will use its $50,000 state grant to reactivate a stretch of vacant storefronts with a micro-business coffee shop and provide space, equipment and Internet access for co-working space. They will also offer a coding class and entrepreneur training for local high school students.

Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd said in a statement that “We are excited to be able to assist communities that are actively working to attract investment, and I can’t wait to see the results of these projects.”

Amy New, TNECD’s assistant commissioner for rural development, added that “Flourishing downtowns provide a sense of pride for our communities, spur tourism and promote entrepreneurship, which ultimately creates jobs. We are excited to see these projects roll out.”

The Tennessee Main Street Entrepreneur Grant program is open to accredited Tennessee Main Street communities, and this first round of six grants were awarded through a competitive scoring process.

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