June 13, 2024

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Unlimited Technology

Startups are way up in Tennessee, nationally amid pandemic

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Despite the COVID-19 pandemic — or perhaps because of it — business starts jumped to a record high in the first half of 2021, according to filings with the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office.

“People who have been displaced are thinking that if they were ever going to do this, maybe now is the time,” said Lynn Chesnutt, managing director of the Tennessee Small Business Development Center in Chattanooga. “If there is any silver lining in what we’ve been through, we are seeing much more intentionality in what people are doing, and they are willing to do more to be successful.”

Montrell Besley has always had an entrepreneurial streak, and he started mobile arcade Rolling Video Games in May, when it looked as if the pandemic would soon relent.

“I dove right in, head first, because I knew the market was going to go crazy because people had been stuck in the house for an entire year,” he said.


A crisis like the pandemic tends to spur action in people who may have been considering entrepreneurship, Besley said.

“I saw a very big surge in people starting businesses,” he said. “Think about all those people that lost their jobs and didn’t have an avenue to take. Some people didn’t get unemployment — they had to create something.”

In Tennessee, a report from Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office shows 70,118 businesses filed for business licenses over the past year, and 19,983 filed in the second quarter of 2021, the highest quarterly total ever recorded.

New business filings in Tennessee in the second quarter of 2021 grew 61.6% from second-quarter filings in 2020. This is the second quarter in a row that Tennessee broke the previous record of year-over-year gain in the 28-year history of the data being collected.

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