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TN Placemakers Entrepreneurship Fund


"Talent is everywhere, opportunity is not."  -Nicholas Kristoff

What is a Placemaker?

Placemakers leverage local assets (human and natural) in a way that impacts the cultural, economic and social aspects of their community to intentionally create a good sense of place and enhance a strong sense of community and wellbeing.

What is the TN Placemakers Entrepreneurship Fund?

It is a pool of monetary resources dedicated to assisting communities across the state develop and train entrepreneurs and small business owners in three broad and diverse categories. The categories are Assess & Plan, Build & Sustain, and Support & Train.    

Why does it matter?

TN Placemakers resolves confusion and fragmentation relative to TNECD’s entrepreneurship and small business development initiatives* by consolidating resources into a single fund.

This increases the overall customer experience by streamlining and simplifying the application process. It reduces time spent on applications to multiple programs over multiple time periods.

Want to learn more about Placemaking?

There are a lot of resources! You can find several on the BERO website here under “Community Resources,” through various podcasts on your favorite platform, or reports like one from Brookings, “Why we need to invest in transformative placemaking.”



*Note TNECD’s Main Entrepreneur Grants and the LiftTN: Microenterprise, Rural and Urban Core Editions are now under the umbrella of TN Placemakers.


Be A Placemaker


What is it for?

Assessing the small business and entrepreneurship landscape by assisting communities with information gathering and dissemination.

What are some of the eligible activities?

Determine gaps in the community and ways to close them which may include, but are not limited to, retail development, tourism, agribusiness, coworking spaces, commercial kitchen incubators, entrepreneurship training services, disaster recovery, etc.

How much can we apply for?

The maximum funding allocation is $15,000/grantee.

What is it for?

Increase the success of local small business and entrepreneurs through stabilization and expansion funds to grantees (and subrecipients), directly engaged in small business and entrepreneurial development.

What are some of the eligible activities?

Furniture, fixtures, and equipment; offset of operational cost to reach sustainability (i.e. rent utilities, installation of technology like gig service into a building without it, etc.), applied primarily to physical locations, such as commercial kitchens, pop-up shops, coworking spaces, etc.

How much can we apply for?

The maximum funding allocation is $75,000/grantee.

What is it for?

Provide access to education, resources, and tools directly to future and existing small businesses and entrepreneurs.

What are some of the eligible activities?

Small business and entrepreneurial development activities, including, but limited to, mentor-protégé program, coding classes, popup shops, craft and artisan development (i.e. Etsy), pitch competitions, Co-Starters classes, Economic Gardening, succession and disaster planning.

How much can we apply for?

The maximum funding allocation is $25,000/grantee.

Application Period: Open
Note: Applications are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until funding the program dollars are fully awarded.

What are the application amounts?

Total Awarded: $843,000

Approximate Amount Available: $1,100,000

Max /Grant: $100,000

Funds may be allocated to one, some, or among all three categories of small business and entrepreneurial activity; A 10% match required by grantees. Your match may include cash, dollars from private foundations or private sources, verifiable salary/benefits, among others.


Max funding amount

Assess & Plan


Build & Sustain


Support & Train


Pivot and Recover

All projects must have a clearly defined small business/entrepreneurship development focus.

Who can apply?

  • Nonprofits
  • Educational institutions
  • Government

This includes ED organizations, chambers of commerce, development districts, public-private partnerships, etc. This grant does not go to individual businesses.

How long is the contract?

Up to 24-months
Months 1-18:  Implementation and utilization
Months 19-24: Observation period, data reporting, and close-out of the grant

Need more information? Yes, you do.


Recorded webinar here.  PDF presentation here.

Some best practices on placemaking in Tennessee can be found here and here.

Documents you need: Budget Template  and Grant Payment Form

For additional information:
Recorded webinar here.  |  PDF presentation here

Good to know before you start:

  • Individual businesses are not eligible for TN Placemakers funding. To verify that your nonprofit is in good standing in TN, do a business information search here before applying. If you have questions, email the TN Placemakers team. If you are looking for resources for your individual business, visit BERO.
  • Applications are currently being accepted on a rolling basis… That means apply while there are dollars to award for your project!
  • We strongly recommend that you (1) read the information on the website carefully, including the webinar materials, (2) save your work as you go, and (3) ask us questions. Contact us at TN Placemakers Team with “TN Placemakers: Applicant Question(s)” in the subject line.
  • The budget template is a requirement for your application, and if you really want to be able to receive any dollars that may result from your application, go ahead and start the Grant Payment Form now because it takes a bit for those who process it.

The deadline for the quarterly report for January through March 2020 will be extended to June 1, 2020.