The federal Shuttered Venue Operators Grant program paid out as much as $10 million per business to 299 venues and businesses across Tennessee.
The program, operated by the U.S. Small Business Administration, sought to help entertainment venues, theaters, museums, aquariums, talent representatives and similar businesses that were forced to shut down – partially or completely – during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The program granted $310.5 million to Tennessee businesses and $16 billion nationally. The grants sent $1 million or more to 75 Tennessee companies.
Grants were capped at $10 million, and three of the top five recipients in Tennessee were from the same address: the corporate offices of Malco Theatres in Memphis.
Between four names (Malco State Road LLC, Malco Theatres Inc., Malco Magnolia Cinemas LLC and Malco Ventures LLC), the company received $38.4 million in grants.
The Small Business Administration set aside at least $2 billion of the grant funds for venues and operations with 50 or fewer employees.
Applicants received 45% of their 2019 gross earned revenue with a $10 million cap per grant. Grantees had to have been open Feb. 29, 2020, to receive an award, and businesses that received Paycheck Protection Program loans on or after Dec. 27, 2020, had their grants reduced by the amount of the loans.
Some of the largest recipients outside of Malco were Great Choice Investments in Pigeon Forge ($10 million), Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville ($9.3 million in Round 1 and $695,000 in Round 2), Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga ($8 million), Country Music Foundation in Nashville ($8 million), Starstruck Management Group of Nashville ($6.9 million), Beale Street Blues of Memphis ($6.2 million), and The Tivoli Theatre Foundation of Chattanooga ($5.7 million in Round 1 and $2.9 million in Round 2).