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Memphis, Tenn. (February 26, 2021) – It was Kristin Fox-Trautman’s dream to create a business that would focus on employees and their families that brought INSPIRE Community Café into existence.

Inspire Cafe opened in the Binghampton Gateway Center in January 2019. Its menu is filled with healthy options and offers coffee and tea drinks and it was designed to be a place to bring the neighborhood together. The owners also involve employees in all major decisions and they give a percentage of monthly profits to local charities and nonprofits.

But when COVID hit, staying open became the focus. Sales dropped from around $18,000 a month to just $4,000 a month. Trautman says before the pandemic they would see 1,300 or more customers a month. In January, they saw just 62. In that time, the staff was also reduced from nine employees to just three.

“We desperately want to be able to rehire our former team members and increase our business,” said Fox-Trautman, “but it is too risky right now with the continued restrictions on restaurants and the reduced business traffic.”

The restaurant received some help today from the EDGE Economic Development Finance Committee in the form of a $5,000 NEED Grant. Nearly 30% of all NEED Grants have gone to restaurants, an industry hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions. EDGE has provided a quarter of a million dollars to local restaurants in this city’s vulnerable neighborhoods.

The EDGE Finance Committee also received an update on all Grant activity today, including 19 additional $5,000 grants for restaurants, grocers, and bars that were further affected by Shelby County Health Directives to help curb virus spread.

To date, EDGE has awarded $951,700 to 155 businesses throughout Memphis’ most vulnerable neighborhoods; 131 of those (85%) are Minority/Women-Owned Businesses.

The 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. Applicants may qualify for up to $10,000. Eligible businesses can apply and find more information at

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