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Memphis, Tenn. (July 24, 2020) – Every September, the Southern Heritage Classic is one of the country’s most anticipated college football games. The rivalry between HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Jackson State and Tennessee State has become a cultural celebration that has a strong economic impact on this city, driving more than $14 million in direct spending each year.

But in June, the 31st Classic, which is played each year at the Liberty Bowl, was canceled because of COVID-19.

“It’s a tough situation,” said Fred Jones, Founder of Summitt Management Corporation (SMC), which puts on the game. “I know this is a disappointment. COVID-19 has affected us tremendously. Since March, our sales have decreased by 100%.”

The Classic is SMC’s largest event with around 75,000 people in attendance each year.

“With the cancellation of the Classic, we have to survive for 15 months from cash on hand normally designed to last for three months,” said Jones.  “We are not able to employ our part-time employees or cover operational expenses.”

EDGE provided SMC with a $20,000 NEED Grant today. The EDGE Economic Development Finance Committee waived the policy restricting eligibility to businesses with less than $1 million in annual revenue and the policy restricting awards to $10,000 or less in order to help SMC stay afloat.

Jones said SMC is keeping sponsors and fans updated and he is now looking to the future, keeping his eyes on 2021.

“This grant will help us cover the cost of various expenses associated with the cancellation of shows and events, and keep up with our expenses,” said Jones.

“I encourage everyone to keep practicing recommended safety and social distancing measures so that we can return to our usual activities as soon as possible.”

SMC was one of seven businesses approved for a NEED Grant today. The other companies awarded grants today were:

  • Delicate Properties Rehabilitation Service
  • We Care Chiropractic
  • AW Catfish and Wings
  • James Chiropractic Wellness & Spa, PLLC
  • Tailored Barber and Beauty Salon
  • The Neely Agency

To date, EDGE has awarded $584,200 to 103 businesses throughout Memphis’s most vulnerable neighborhoods; 83 of those (81%) are minority- and women-owned businesses.  The Neighborhood Emergency Economic Development (NEED) Grant was created to provide relief to small businesses, located in Memphis’ most vulnerable neighborhoods that have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.