The grants are designed to encourage job growth in established downtown commercial districts.
Lebanon plans to create the Cumberland Entrepreneur and Co-Working Center as a co-working space, offer entrepreneur training classes and create space for pop-up shops.
In addition to Lebanon, the new grantees are the Tennessee Main Street communities of Dyersburg, Gallatin, Kingsport, Sevierville and Sweetwater.
The projects are funded through the Rural Economic Opportunity Act to encourage the growth of entrepreneurship and revitalization of vacant and underused buildings in Tennessee’s Main Street communities.
“We are excited to be able to assist communities that are working to attract entrepreneurial investment,” Rolfe said. “They are identifying spaces, creating partnerships and providing services to help start-ups succeed. These funds are supplementing some impressive new projects, and I look forward to seeing each community grow because of these grants.”
Dyersburg will create a co-working, incubation and maker space in a building in the downtown district. Gallatin will offer entrepreneur classes at the Public Square co-working space and hold a business pitch competition. Kingsport will hold entrepreneur-training classes and grant awards to participants in a pitch contest. It will also fund a maker space at an art gallery and make improvements to a studio space. Sevierville plans to develop Gallery @129 for artists in a downtown building and offering a co-working classroom. Sweetwater plans to convert a vacant 1870s building into a restaurant and business incubator.
The grant program is offered to communities that are accredited Tennessee Main Street communities, and grants are competitively awarded. Projects are currently underway in six other Main Street communities – Bristol, Columbia, Jackson, Morristown, Savannah and Winchester – from the first round of funding.
Each application was supported by the community’s senator and representatives in the Tennessee General Assembly.
The Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development’s mission is to develop strategies that help make Tennessee the No. 1 location in the Southeast for high-quality jobs. To grow and strengthen Team Tennessee, the department seeks to attract new corporate investment in Tennessee and works with Tennessee companies to facilitate expansion and economic growth. Tennessee is the only three-time winner of “State of the Year” for economic development by Business Facilities magazine.