Help The Vine help 40 businesses affected by COVID

The Vine at Tuscan Hill responds to “What’s in your hands?” with an initiative to support 40 local small businesses for free for 12 months.  #SmallBusinessRelief

Watch our video:  

Who We Are?  The Vine at Tuscan Hill is in its 12th year of serving our community as an event venue on the northeast edge of Springfield, MO.  We’ve welcomed over 100,000 guests through our gates.

Summary of our GIVE:
1)  Provide space for 40 small businesses for FREE for 12 months.
2)  Put up to six newly-unemployed people to work to support the cause.
3)  Pour back 10% of all new net revenue into our nonprofits.

Summary of our NEED: 

1)  Cover cost of extra personnel to support the 40 small businesses;
2)  Widen our lane to support the increased daily traffic;
3)  Cover our expenses while we wait for our business to resume; and 
4)  Complete our building projects to increase our capacity to serve.

But Why:  When “business as usual” came to a screeching halt the last week of March, I struck up a serious conversation with God. 

While I was immersed in addressing client requests coming in to reschedule events from April, May, June and July to Fall and 2021, my conversation with God continued. I was whining while asking for wisdom to know what to do with my now completely-cleared calendar.  

The question “What's in your hands?” kept coming to mind.  

My only response?  “I have a lot of space, time and land that is not going to do anyone any good due to the shutdown and social distancing restrictions.”  

On the surface, it looked apparent that what I have in my hands can’t be used. That even with a sincere desire to be radically generous, it seemed useless.  And with gathering restrictions on venues serving large crowds, it looks like the uselessness could continue for a very long time, even past the pandemic health crisis and flattening of the curve.

To that, I believe I heard, 
“You’re thinking way too small! Think BIGGER! Think BEYOND!” 

Over the last few weeks, I have stopped whining and started processing with Him what it might mean, what it might look like, to do something constructive with what I have in my hands. I started considering what it would mean to GIVE out of what I’ve been GIVEN.  I’m stewarding this amazing 12-acre property with 8000 sf of indoor space and 8000 sf of patio space, with no one enjoying it. 

Why Do I Care?  I think we can all agree that small business is the backbone of communities around the globe.  We touch lives in unique ways too numerous to count or describe. It will take everyone giving out of what they’ve been given to see our cities and towns rebuild and flourish.  

As a small business entrepreneur for the past 20+ years, business is near and dear to my heart. As we and so many businesses have come to learn in the past few weeks, we have been deemed “non-essential.”  In terms of spreading the virus in large gatherings, I get that, but we “non-essentials” are only just beginning to feel the impact economically. The number of lives affected by the economic impact are still to be fully realized.  Some “non-essentials” will be able to ramp up faster than "non-essential" venues will.

We all want to get back to “business as usual,” but we know there is the possibility that not all our beloved small businesses will make it back.  We also know that many of us will struggle for some time. For those who have lost their space to do business, one of the greatest “catch-22” challenges is that the entrepreneur must rebuild their revenue to cover overhead expenses of space and utilities, but can’t rebuild their revenue without a space to do business.

It’s quite possible that because we are a venue, and one of the last “non-essentials” to fully make it back, The Vine at Tuscan Hill is uniquely positioned to open our doors and partner with our small business community.  I want us to become an “ESSENTIAL” business for others to succeed. By giving away what we’ve been given, I’m believing that if we will become the miracle for 40 other businesses to make it, we will thrive as well! Perhaps we were established in 2009 for such a time as this!

So, my Answer to thinking Bigger and Beyond?  Put quite simply -- Because it will likely be some time before The Vine at Tuscan Hill can host 240 person events again, it is THE perfect time to let others use our space.  I can share my many spaces with many other small business entrepreneurs (practitioners and consultants) at risk for losing their business, or at risk for losing the space in which they carry out their business! Many can use our spaces even though, and even while, we can’t. And as for The Vine at Tuscan Hill, there’s no better time to complete building projects and capacity strengthening than when you are shut down from holding large events.

The Nuts and Bolts of the Strategy?

This is what we can do right now for our small business community.

1)  When gathering restrictions ease in a couple of weeks, we can host FOUR small businesses for FREE for up to 12 months.

2)  But with more personnel and some infrastructure upgrades, we can actually support and host FORTY small business entrepreneurs for FREE for up to 12 months. 

What small business would work well in our space?  Small Business owners who are practitioners or consultants in a service industry where they are meeting with 1 or just a few individuals per session work the best. Some professionals might need time and space for eight appointments per week; others may need enough for 30. Like-minded wellness practitioners, coaches, counselors, culinary experts, and chefs having lost a restaurant, among many others, would work well in our space. For a more complete list of small business types, visit 

What’s the catch?  We ask nothing of the small businesses we host except to consider joining us in pouring 10% of all new net revenue back into our local non profits that have been on the front lines addressing food and shelter insecurities in our community.

What do we need?  To be 100% prepared for small businesses when restrictions begin to lift soon, we will need adequate personnel and other resources listed below to accomplish this 12 month endeavor. The greater the community involvement, the greater the number of small businesses we can support.  But, it's more than that . . . We've never been able to pool enough funds together to complete our buildings.  Now is the perfect time to finish, but we need resources to complete the full vision.

Spending detail summary:

1)  Hire and train up to six people to help manage the effort. We would hope to hire those individuals newly-unemployed due to COVID-19 -- $175k;
2)  Cover overhead expenses to support 40 businesses for 12 months -- $10k;
3)  Continue meeting all expenses, operational costs and servicing business payments while we wait for the large gathering restrictions to lift and revenue pick up -- $110k;
4)  Widen our lane to support continual flow of vehicles of 40 professionals and their clients coming onto the property and leaving the property -- $85k; 
5)  Complete our existing building with commercial kitchen equipment to create many new opportunities for chefs who have lost their restaurants, to then be able to create, test, lead workshops, both in person and virtual, and cater events -- $180k.
6)  Complete construction of the new building for public and private conferences, retreats, workshops and events.  The new building will make it possible to host potentially more than 40 small business professionals -- $265k. 

Will we provide progress updates?  Yes. We will keep track of:

1)  How many unemployed people we have put to work;
2)  How many small businesses we have accepted to practice here;
3)  The progress of the lane, the kitchen, and the new building.

When do we need the help?  This is a NOW moment. The more resources we have to work with NOW, the more newly-unemployed we can hire, and so, the more small businesses we can support at the venue in a couple of weeks.

So if you love our vision to: 

1)  Provide our many spaces for FREE to 40 small businesses;
2)  Employ the newly-unemployed to help support the small businesses;
3)  Pour 10% back into the nonprofits addressing food and shelter insecurities; and 
4)  Expand our capabilities for serving our next 100,000 guests, then . . .

Please consider donating. 

We and 40 other small businesses will want to show our gratitude!  Here's how:
1)  All of our contributors will have their own dedicated space on our 'WALL OF THANKSGIVING";
2)  All of our contributors are welcome to attend our milestone celebrations along the way.

Together we will GIVE our way through this crisis. #SmallBusinessRelief 

For more details visit  


Julie Forrester 
Springfield, MO

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