Gov. Lee announces $200M relief program for small businesses

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 12:42 PM EDT
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Governor Bill Lee announced a new relief program for Tennessee businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Tennessee Business Relief Program will direct nearly $200 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds 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 Gov. 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.”

The amounts awarded to each business will be based on the annual gross sales of the business.

“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 Lt. Gov. 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.”

Nearly 28,000 Tennessee businesses are expected to qualify.

The following types of small businesses are eligible:

Barber shops

Beauty shops

Nail salons

Tattoo parlors, spas, and other personal care services

Gyms and fitness centers



Hotels and other travel accommodations

Theaters, auditoriums, performing arts centers and similar facilities

Museums, zoos, and other similar attractions

Amusement parks

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

Independent artists, writers, and performers

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):

Furniture stores

Home furnishing stores

Clothing stores

Shoe stores

Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores

Sporting goods, hobby, and musical instrument stores

Book stores

Department stores

Office supply, stationery and gift stores

Used merchandise stores

Other miscellaneous stores

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