It’s easy to read some of the headlines about Chattanooga’s economy and think that everything we’re doing is about big business: huge factories investing millions of dollars to create hundreds of jobs. We’re certainly very happy for those kinds of announcements when they happen, but there’s actually much more to our city’s economic development strategy — and it includes the many great small businesses at work in our neighborhoods.

That’s why earlier this week, I visited Moss’ Place Catering on Tunnel Boulevard to highlight another way that our Neighborhood Reinvestment Fund is building strong neighborhoods: directly supporting the locally-owned small businesses that help grow our economy from the bottom up and the inside out.

The City of Chattanooga will provide eligible businesses with a loan of up to $25,000 per year. We’re going to ask these business owners to put a little of their own skin in the game, but we’re going to make sure the terms of the loan — including the amount that can be forgiven over time — make them manageable for recipients.

Entrepreneurs in disadvantaged communities know that talent is evenly distributed throughout cities like Chattanooga, but opportunity is not. When local businesses get the resources they need to grow, our entire city gets stronger.

These include great local leaders like Darnell Moss, who has had a successful catering operation for more than 19 years. Mr. Moss intends to apply for a loan that will help him put a new roof on his business. These loans can be used for a variety of things like facility renovations, equipment or inventory, building improvements, insurance, marketing, or training and certification programs.

If you’d like more information about this program and if your business might be eligible for support, please contact our Economic Development office at (423) 643-7821.

Every February, we reflect on the pioneering accomplishments of our nation’s African-American leaders during Black History Month. Many outstanding men and women of color are making a tremendous difference here in Chattanooga every single day. I invite you to check out the City of Chattanooga’s Facebook page and Instagram account to meet some of these terrific public servants and learn more about how they are making history right now.

Thank you for everything you do, and I look forward to seeing you around town.

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