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April 08, 2020 | Tom Ballard

Chattanooga Chamber holds online workshop spotlighting help available to city businesses and organizations

Just hours after the Chattanooga City Council approved a $500,000 emergency fund to help businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a Zoom event yesterday afternoon to update individuals in the “Gig City” on several types of assistance available to businesses and other organizations impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The discussion, which featured three individuals, was moderated by Marcus Shaw, Chief Executive Officer of CO.LAB. The panelists were Jermaine Freeman, Civic Engagement Coordinator for the City of Chattanooga; Lynn Chesnutt, Managing Director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Chattanooga; and Dwayne Marshall, Vice President for Community Investment with the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga.

Freeman told those on the video call that the latest funding is designed to help businesses that were impacted by Mayor Andy Berke’s late March Executive Order regarding closing because they were unable to implement recommended social distancing practices.

“We should be able to take applications as early as next Monday,” he said, adding that the maximum award would be $5,000. The city has also implemented a bridge loan program that is designed to help small businesses until they can tap into other programs. Awards under that program will take a little longer to secure approval.

Marshall described an effort led by the Community Foundation to support organizations that are helping individuals who are impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic – those he described as “our most vulnerable.” Thus far, about $1 million has been raised and about one-half of the funding has been deployed.

“We have funded 14 organizations and can do so in a matter of days,” Marshall said. Fundraising is continuing.

The Community Response and Resilience Fund, as the multi-organization initiative is known, will support communities that are disproportionately and negatively affected by the health, economic, and social impacts of the coronavirus outbreak.

Chesnutt described the ever evolving guidelines for the various federal programs administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

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