Federal officials and Mayor Karl Dean on Tuesday opened Nashville’s first business recovery center, a facility aimed at assisting the more than 1,600 Davidson County companies affected by last weekend’s devastating flood.
Launched at Tennessee State University’s Avon Williams campus, the new office is the first of what could be several one-stop shops that cater specifically to the recuperation of small businesses. Six other centers in Nashville already offer citizens help in receiving aid available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Karen Mills, on hand for the new facility’s opening, said small businesses create 65 percent of new jobs and produce half of the nation’s employment overall.
“We’ve got to make sure, if we’re going to get Nashville back going and through all this, that the small businesses survive, and that they prosper, and that they get back on an even keel, so that they can keep everybody employed,” Mills said.
Inside the new business recovery center, which is free to access, several counselors are available to business owners in need of help to rebuilding their companies. By law, the center can stay in Nashville for no more than nine months. More than 900 similar offices are found across the nation.
According to Mills, Nashville businesses damaged by flooding have the opportunity to take advantage of 4 percent interest loans for up to 30 years. Recipients can receive as much as $2 million. Small business owners can call 1-800-621-FEMA to receive more information or visit www.sba.gov.
“We can help you take the time to figure out what your need is, and if you need to come back for an additional small business economic entry loan because the slowdown goes on for a little longer, we can help you a second time,” Mills said.
Through estimates supplied by the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce, Dean said more than 1,600 Nashville businesses are located on properties damaged by flooding.
Nashville still has a “long way to go,” Dean said, but called the new business center “another positive step in our city’s recovery efforts, and another sign of the federal government’s commitment to helping our city recover.