TTalent is everywhere, opportunities are not, and availability does not equal equitable access. THE TN Placemakers Entrepreneurship Fund helps communities provide opportunities and access to small businesses and entrepreneurs who are or will be part of the community. The application period is currently open and ready for new applicants.
But first, what is a placemaker?
Creator of places: An individual or group of people whose primary goal is to create and shape places where people can live, work, learn, and play. Placemakers often combine innovation and understanding of the needs of a given place to create something unique and positive for locals and visitors. They strive to create dynamic and meaningful places, usually by blending traditional concepts with modern technology and innovative approaches.
An example of a TN Placemaker is Kim Parks, executive director of Historic Lebanon.
After spending time volunteering with the local chamber, Parks became interested in economic development and how to renovate historic properties while still making a profit.
Thanks to a grant from TN Placemakers, Historic Lebanon was able to bring new life and activity to properties that experienced very little foot traffic.
“That’s what Historic Lebanon is trying to do,” Parks said. “We try to look at the historical side of things, but we also want to improve the economy of the place and help entrepreneurs.”
Photo credit: Historic Lebanon
Another example of a TN Placemaker is Hal Bowling, co-founder and executive director of LAUNCH Chattanooga.
Bowling and his team launched LAUNCH Chattanooga in the Alton Park neighborhood in 2011, and since then, they have helped start more than 400 businesses and introduced entrepreneurship to more than 1,000 high school students. They also helped groups in 20 other cities launch their own version of LAUNCH.
“At the end of the day, it’s about serving our community and making sure everyone who is a part of it has an opportunity to succeed,” Bowling said.
Photo credit: LAUNCH Chattanooga
Want to learn more about how your community can benefit from the TN Placemakers Entrepreneurship Fund? Continue reading below.
What is the TN Placemakers Entrepreneurship Fund?
A pool of monetary resources intended to help communities across the state, from rural to urban areas, obtain funds for broad and diverse activities that support and grow small businesses and entrepreneurs in their community.
Who can apply?
Eligible individuals include nonprofit organizations established for at least three years, educational institutions and government entities. This includes economic development organizations, chambers of commerce, development districts, public-private partnerships, and other nonprofit entrepreneur support organizations.
TN Placemakers is intended to support and grow small businesses and entrepreneurs; however, funds cannot be used for the benefit of a single business.
How can I use the financing?
There are two funding groups, but applicants can only apply for one group.
Group 1 is divided into three categories: assess and plan, build and maintain, and support and train.
Group 2 includes one category: Pivot and Recovery.
Funds from each group and category can be used for a variety of things. See below for a brief description of each.
- Assess and plan: determine community gaps and ways to fill them, including retail development, tourism, agribusiness, coworking spaces, commercial kitchen incubators, training services to entrepreneurship, disaster recovery, etc.
- Build and maintain: purchase furniture, accessories and equipment; offset operational costs to achieve sustainability (utility rent, installation of a concert service, etc.). This primarily applies to physical locations, such as commercial kitchens, pop-up shops, coworking spaces, etc.
- Support and Training: Use for small business and entrepreneurship development activities, including mentor-protege programs, coding classes, pop-up shops, craft development, pitch competitions, economical gardening, succession and disaster planning.
- Pivot & Recover: Support small businesses and entrepreneurs impacted by COVID-19 through technical assistance, operating expenses, technology programs or microgrants.
How much funding is available?
The maximum grant amount for Group 1 is $100,000 and applicants can apply for funds in one, two or all three categories.
- Evaluate and plan: maximum $15,000/beneficiary
- Build and sustain: maximum $75,000/beneficiary
- Support and training: maximum $25,000/beneficiary
In Group 2, Pivot & Recover, candidates can apply for one or both parts.
- Technical assistance, operating expenses and/or technology: maximum $100,000
- Microgrants (up to $1,000 in grants per business): maximum $50,000
What is the duration of the contract ?
The contract can last up to 24 months. In general, the schedule is as follows:
- Months 1-18: Implementation and use
- Month 19-24: Observation period, data reporting and grant closure
We are proud of all of our TN Placemakers and eager to provide more opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the Volunteer State. For more information and to apply, please click here.
If you’re interested in what other TN Placemakers across the state are doing, check out @tnplacemakers on Instagram.