How Nashville Businesses Can Recover from the March Tornadoes
April 23, 2020 / Share:
“The road ahead won’t be easy, but my administration and our whole city is standing with you,” said Nashville Mayor John Cooper.
On March 3, an F3 tornado blew through Nashville and took with it many of the businesses that make Nashville a thriving home filled with art, culture and good food. Hundreds of beloved Nashville businesses were affected by the storm — some through loss of power and others through complete destruction of their locations.
In response to the Mayor’s Office of Economic and Community Development, the Nashville Entrepreneur Center joined forces with Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, the SBA, Pathway Lending and industry experts to offer entrepreneurs and small businesses with financial resources and information they needed to recover.
Eager to rebuild, more than 130 people joined the virtual Tornado Business Disaster Recovery Webinar last week to hear testimonials from other entrepreneurs with similar experiences, from disaster recovery experts and members of economic development organizations around Metro Nashville.
“At the EC, we opened our facility to those without a place to work and our teams have worked tirelessly each day since to listen and respond. Knowing that 25% of our economy is the entrepreneurial community, our focus is to always provide critical resources to entrepreneurs and that is especially true in these uncertain times,” said CEO of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center Jane Allen in a video message with Ralph Schulz, president and CEO of the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
“We live in a city filled with successful entrepreneurs that make Nashville what it is today – a vibrant, welcoming community with leaders in so many different industries –healthcare, music and entertainment. In this same spirit, we will maintain a strong connection among our business community by working together to rebuild.”
“You guys are on the front lines of the resilience that Nashville demonstrates every time it meets a challenge,” said Schulz, who praised the adaptability of Nashville small business during tornado recovery.
Christy Pruitt-Haynes, founder of Christy Pruitt-Haynes Consulting and an EC advisor, received significant damage to three of her rental properties during the 2010 flood, jeopardizing not only the homes of her tenants, but a significant source of income for her family as well. Luckily, she was able to apply for loans through FEMA and the SBA to make repairs and keep her businesses afloat.
“I’m very grateful for those resources that were available, and I’m not sure that I, as an entrepreneur, would have made it without that,” Pruitt-Haynes said.
Meanwhile, entrepreneurs Joshua and Tabitha Mundy experienced their own devastation earlier this month when the tornado destroyed or affected all four of their businesses: Music City Cleaners, The Fortitude Group, theLab Nashville and Pivot Technology School, LLC.
Over the course of the webinar, several resources were discussed that are currently available to business owners like the Mundys, whose businesses were significantly affected by the early March storms.
Financial Aid for Businesses through FEMA
Since starting groundwork on March 3, FEMA has approved more than $1.3 million for 427 Tennessee homeowners for uninsured losses in storms and $962,000 in housing grants for rebuilding and repairing homes and short term housing, said Dr. Myra Shird, a Federal Coordinating Officer at FEMA.
Those with uninsured losses can contact FEMA to apply for assistance at www.disasterassitance.gov, via the FEMA app, or by phone at 1-800-621-3362. The deadline to register is May 4.
Financial Aid for Businesses through SBA
“Some people are like, ‘Why would I want to get a loan when I’m trying to recover from a disaster?’ That’s what SBA has been doing since 1953,” said LaTanya Channel, the Director of the SBA’s Tennessee Office.
For business insurance, the U.S. Small Business Administration has Physical Disaster Loans for affected businesses of any size and Economic Injury Disaster Loans for small businesses and non-profit organizations.
These loans can be utilized for real estate repairs, inventory replacement, supplies, and equipment, Channel said. Businesses can apply for either loan at www.diasasterloan.sba.gov, or call the local Nashville office at 615-736-5881.
Legal Help Around Financial Aid
“We consider ourselves and the lawyers in our association to be third responders in situations like this,” said Laura Baker, President of the Nashville Bar Association, who said her organization is prepared to help as Nashvillians are rebuilding their lives and responding to complicated legal issues that can arise during the process.
For those with legal questions about the FEMA or SBA loan application process, or who may need to appeal during the loan process, the Nashville Bar Association is hosting free legal teleclinics in collaboration with the Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services. Over 160 lawyers who have volunteered to take hotline calls, and can be reached at 1-844-HELP4TN.
Employee Training and Payroll Support
For employers who are considering cutting their workforce, grants and other opportunities are available through WorkForce Essentials, said President Marla Rye, and the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development has created resources for employers who are being forced to lay off or furlough their workforce.
Incumbent Worker Training Grants can help employers to continue to support employees who are in work with less to do by providing them with new skills training. On-the-Job Training Contracts pays up to 50% of new trainees’ salaries for businesses that are still operating and hiring.
Dislocated workers can get free job skill training, childcare, travel reimbursement, and equipment for those changing careers free of charge if they meet certain qualifications. Dislocated hospitality workers, likewise, can connect with the Tennessee Talent Exchange to find opportunities within high-demand industries.
More information on these services can be found at Jobs4tn.gov and tn.gov/workforce.
As Nashville pulls together to recover in the aftermath of the March 3 tornados, m
ore resources are being made available to small business owners in our community in the hopes that they will be able to reemerge from the disaster stronger than before.
“We want you to know that you’re not alone. We are a community that supports each other. Even in this time we cannot be together physically, we are here for you,” said Stephanie Coleman, Chief Growth Officer at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Recordings of this webinar and other resources on disaster recovery will be available here.