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Tennessee Main Street Entrepreneur Grants Awarded to Six Communities

April 20, 2016

Tennessee Economic and Community Development Commissioner Randy Boyd announced today six communities that will receive the first round of Tennessee Main Street Entrepreneur Grants of $50,000 each to encourage business growth in established downtown commercial districts.

Grants will be used to provide startup space and training for entrepreneurs throughout Tennessee in the downtown commercial districts of Bristol, Cleveland, Columbia, Jackson, Morristown and Savannah.

“Tennessee has become a great state for entrepreneurs and by creating a supportive and nurturing ecosystem, we can maintain our reputation as being a place that’s known for startup success,” Boyd said. “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.”

“Tennessee Main Streets have put a lot of work into creating an environment for business by improving the appearance of downtown and protecting their historic structures,” Amy New, assistant commissioner for rural development, said. “Our downtowns are an important part of our state’s identity and cultural heritage. 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.”

Projects accepted for $50,000 Main Street Entrepreneur Grants:

  • Morristown’s Crossroads Downtown Partnership will create three co-working spaces in the downtown commercial district in partnership with the Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Carson-Newman University, Walters State Community College, Morristown Chamber of Commerce and city of Morristown.
  • MainStreet Cleveland will restore a 1902 building recently purchased by the city of Cleveland to create a mixed-use, multi-tenant business incubator for startup entrepreneurs.
  • Jackson Downtown Development Corporation will create three new retail storefronts for entrepreneurs on vacant lots utilizing repurposed shipping containers. Their partners include theCO, the city of Jackson and University of Memphis Lambuth.
  • Believe in Bristol will 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.
  • Savannah Main Street will 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.
  • Columbia Main Street will equip an Entrepreneur Co-Work Center in the downtown district to provide shared work space, equipment and Internet, a training room and training opportunities. Project partners include Columbia Power of Water System, South Central Tennessee Workforce Board, LaunchTN, LEAP Grant Programs, city of Columbia, Maury Economic Alliance, Columbia Industrial Development Board, Maury County Industrial Development Board, Columbia State Community College and Martin Methodist College.

The grant program was offered to accredited Tennessee Main Street communities, and grants were competitively scored.