BRISTOL, Va. — Clint Holley’s new business, The Earnest Tube, was one of six to receive $10,000 each in grant funding Saturday during the Downtown Bristol Entrepreneur’s Grant competition.
"They do a direct-to-disc recording," said Maggie Bishop, executive director of Believe in Bristol, which organized the competition. "They started it in Cleveland, Ohio, and they are the only ones in the world who are able to do these kinds of recordings."
Holley, who purchased a building at 22 Lee Street last summer, hopes the business will be open in time for the Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion in September.
"What we do is replicate how Ralph Peer recorded people in 1927, when the Carter Family and Jimmy Rodgers came to town," Holley said.
The competition, which resulted in three winners each from both Tennessee and Virginia, was the culmination of a 9-week program.
Believe in Bristol’s competition, which is funded through Tennessee and Virginia Main Street programs and Wells Fargo, started with 58 online applications.
"Our economic vitality committee from Believe in Bristol was tasked to narrowing that down," Bishop said.
The 58 applications were then narrowed to 32 interviews. After the interviews, the committee narrowed the competition to 18.
"They went through a 9-week training program called Co.Starters," Bishop said. "And we had a small business owner in our downtown actually facilitate that course. It’s been a really amazing program."
Two existing businesses, Pen’s Floral and Willow Creek, and a new business, The Earnest Tube, won on the Virginia side. Two existing businesses, Tri-Cities Escape Game and Bank Street Bristol, and a new business, Bloom, won on the Tennessee side.
Bishop described Bloom as a café during the day and a listening room during the evening.
In previous years, only one entrepreneur was given grant funding. Previous winners have included Southern Churn and the Bristol Brewery, which is now Bristol Station Brews and Taproom.
Holley, whose recording studio will cater to all genres of music, not just country, said the competition was challenging.
"From a standpoint of someone opening a start-up business, it’s a lot of information that’s going to help you out in the long run because there’s just a lot of stuff you don’t know when you get into this," Holley said. "We went over everything from business structures to cash flow, even things like marketing yourself and how do you identify the people who are your customers."
Holley said he believes participants learned a lot from the lessons.
Due to the grant funding, Believe in Bristol staff will be following up on each of the winners.
"We don’t want them to open up their doors and close a few days later," Bishop said. "We’ll be following up for the next three years."
More information about The Earnest Tube can be found on its website, as well as social media.