Radio Hall of Famer Blair Garner Transforms Abandoned Columbia Church Into Concert Venue
New SBA Roadshow Series features Garner and husband Eric discussing how an SBA loan during the pandemic made the project possible
(COLUMBIA, Tenn.) Blair Garner is a nationally syndicated on-air radio personality and member of both the National Radio Hall of Fame and the Country Radio Hall of Fame. He left the microphone in 2020 when he and his husband Eric purchased a long-abandoned Baptist church in Columbia, TN. They took out an SBA loan to convert the property into a state-of-the-art live streaming music venue they’ve named The Mulehouse. The Garners made the gut-wrenching decision mid-pandemic to move forward with construction, and are now opening their doors just as the economy is revving back up. The Mulehouse will host their first shows starting in June.
The Garners recently sat down with The SBA Roadshow, a new series that explores how small businesses have used capital to navigate the pandemic. The Garners’ episode is being released Wednesday, May 19. The show’s host Dustin Baker interviewed the Garners on site as they were winding up construction.
“We’re grateful that Dustin was able to visit us here in Columbia—giving us the opportunity to share our story of opening a new business during this challenging time,” says Blair Garner, Owner and Founder of The Mulehouse. “There’s power in community, and my hope is that small business owners will continue to work together to help each other rise above the adversity that we’ve all experienced over the past year. It’s impactful to see businesses extending goodwill by telling their SBA success stories—there are many to be told.”
The episode also features Shea Wood Turner, the SBA lender at First Horizon Bank who helped the Garners secure the loan.
“First Horizon Bank was pleased to work with Blair and Eric in helping them realize their dream of opening The Mulehouse,” says Turner. “This amazing new venue will be a great addition to Greater Nashville’s legendary live music scene, and we wish the Garners all the best for their first performance event.”
The SBA Roadshow, produced by Tulsa-based advisory firm Baker Lewis, highlights the positive impact of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s loan programs on communities all over the U.S. The series follows Baker, the firm’s CEO and Co-Founder, on a cross-country road trip visiting small businesses who benefited from SBA and Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans during the COVID-19 pandemic. The mission of the SBA Roadshow is to build community through shared stories—stories of resilience, determination, and persistence that define the entrepreneurs who are the backbone of the U.S. economy.
For Season 1 of the SBA Roadshow, Baker interviews 11 businesses and SBA lenders on his way through Mississippi, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Illinois. The people and businesses he meets along the way detail their stories of adversity and triumph as they share the impact of receiving PPP and other SBA loans in the most trying times.
“I’ve always known on paper how much impact these loan programs have,” Baker says. “But when you talk to a business owner and hear that individual story, and you see a community thriving because that business is there, that reality comes alive. What The Mulehouse is going to mean to Columbia is a perfect example.”
Season 1 of the SBA Roadshow premiered on April 26, and new episodes are being released weekly through the summer (watch at youtube.com/sbaroadshow).
For More Information About The SBA Roadshow, visit www.sbaroadshow.com
For More Information About The Mulehouse, visit www.TheMulehouse.com
About Baker Lewis
Baker Lewis is a Tulsa, OK based advisory firm founded in 2009 that specializes in staffing, management consulting, and loan placement in the SBA lending sector. With offices in Tulsa and Oxford, MS, the firm provides services to SBA lenders and small business owners nationwide. For more information, visit www.bakerandlewis.com.
About The Mulehouse
Located in historic Columbia, TN, only 40 minutes south of Nashville, The Mulehouse is a 55,500 sq. ft. multi-use entertainment venue owned by Blair Garner, a country music industry veteran and host of multiple award-winning syndicated radio shows. The adaptive reuse project, formerly a historic church dating back to 1936, aims to elevate what artists and their fans can expect from a venue. The result will be a live event experience like no other for both in-person guests and those watching globally through the venue’s top-of-the-line livestreaming technology. For more information visit www.TheMulehouse.com.