New $6 Million Fund to Increase Local Small Business Lending

865 Opportunity Fund by Pathway Lending Improves Access to Capital

Pathway Lending, a certified Community Development Financial Institution, is collaborating with First Horizon, Pinnacle Financial Partners, and Regions Bank to recapitalize its existing loan fund in the Knoxville region and rebrand it as the 865 Opportunity Fund.

The $6 million in new capital will provide loans between $5,000 and $50,000 to eligible small businesses, helping address a funding gap identified in the Knoxville Chamber’s Capital Access Redefined report identified as a gap in the business capital continuum. The fund is part of a collaborative effort aimed at expanding Knoxville’s small business ecosystem, with funding focused on minority- and woman-owned businesses in Anderson, Blount, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Roane, Sevier, and Union counties.

“This announcement aligns with the Chamber’s efforts to transition Knoxville’s economy,” said Nadim Jubran, entrepreneurship and small business vice chair for the Knoxville Chamber. “We are committed to retaining and attracting innovative entrepreneurs who will create high-growth companies. Supporting these business owners with increased access to capital is one of the tools to do so.”

Pathway Lending is a nonprofit, mission-driven lending institution that serves Tennessee communities and small businesses and specializes in working with veteran, women, minority, rural and low-income small business borrowers. In addition to the 865 Opportunity Fund, the organization offers a complete catalog of small business and commercial loan products, from $5,000 to $5 million, and a full range of learning programs, from classrooms to one-to-one coaching, to businesses at any stage in any industry.

“With over 155 years helping small businesses at First Horizon, we know how critical they are to the strength of our local economy, and it has never been more important to have funding that supports their capital needs throughout the journey,” said Dave Miller, East Tennessee president of First Horizon. “We’re proud to support this collaboration so we can deliver resources to small business owners and entrepreneurs in all corners of our community and to keep delivering on Knoxville’s promise to be the place where entrepreneurs are made.”

“Our small businesses are key to Knoxville’s future prosperity,” said Missy Wallen, Pinnacle’s chairman in Knoxville. “They fuel our economy’s growth, create opportunities and jobs for our neighbors, and shape the quality of life our communities enjoy. We’re honored at Pinnacle to champion and support small businesses through our partnerships with incredible organizations like Pathway Lending and all the community partners coming together to make this possible.”

“Our teams are working every day to create more inclusive prosperity in East Tennessee,” said Rob Stivers, Knoxville market executive for Regions Bank. “One of the most powerful ways we can do so is by building on our work with organizations like Pathway Lending to help connect hard-working entrepreneurs with resources designed to support their success. Business owners face a variety of challenges in terms of inflation, labor shortages, and supply chain disruptions, but when the business community works together – as these banks are with Pathway Lending – we can help entrepreneurs overcome challenges and build sustainable growth.”

To support the new loan fund and collaboration, Pathway Lending welcomes Aaron Owen as its new vice president of lending for the Knoxville region. Owen brings with him over a decade of banking experience. Small business owners interested in learning more about application requirements and funding opportunities may contact him at (865) 321- 3050 or, or visit

“We are deeply grateful for such tremendous support from the banks, community partners and the Knoxville Chamber,” said Hank Helton, Executive Vice President for Pathway Lending. “From serving small businesses and communities across Tennessee for the past two decades, we’ve come to know it takes these kinds of collaborations to reach entrepreneurs in all corners of the region and unlock their growth potential. And having started out here in Knoxville all those years ago makes it that much more special to recommit to the region in such a big way.”


About Knoxville Chamber

The Knoxville Chamber is an economic prosperity organization committed to creating a vibrant, innovative ecosystem that considers the realities of today while preparing for the demands of the future. Focused on its mission of driving regional economic prosperity, the team collaborates with investors and community leaders to position the City of Knoxville and Knox County as a preeminent location for companies to locate, operate and grow. Learn more at

About Pathway Lending

Founded in 1999 and based in Nashville, Pathway Lending is a community development financial institution (CDFI) certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. It has grown to become a major lending institution in the Southeast, propelling meaningful economic growth in communities across the region. In 2021, Pathway Lending made more than $57.7 million in loans and delivered 16,555 hours of technical assistance and education. Get to know our mission and the stories of the entrepreneurs and communities we serve at

About First Horizon

First Horizon with $79.0 billion in assets as of December 31, 2022, is a leading regional financial services company, dedicated to helping our clients, communities and associates unlock their full potential with capital and counsel. Headquartered in Memphis, TN, the banking subsidiary First Horizon Bank operates in 12 states across the southern U.S. The Company and its subsidiaries offer commercial, private banking, consumer, small business, wealth and trust management, retail brokerage, capital markets, fixed income, and mortgage banking services. First Horizon has been recognized as one of the nation’s best employers by Fortune and Forbes magazines and a Top 10 Most Reputable U.S. Bank. More information is available at

About Pinnacle Financial Partners

Pinnacle Financial Partners provides a full range of banking, investment, trust, mortgage and insurance products and services designed for businesses and their owners and individuals interested in a comprehensive relationship with their financial institution. The firm is the No. 1 bank in the Nashville-Murfreesboro-Franklin MSA, according to 2022 deposit data from the FDIC, is listed by Forbes among the top 25 banks in the nation and earned a spot on the 2022 list of 100 Best Companies to Work For® in the U.S., its sixth consecutive appearance. American Banker recognized Pinnacle as one of America’s Best Banks to Work For 10 years in a row and No. 1 among banks with more than $11 billion in assets in 2022.

Pinnacle expanded to East Tennessee in 2007 by hiring a team of local financial services professionals to start an office in Knoxville. Pinnacle now operates five offices in Knox County, one in Oak Ridge and one in Maryville. The firm is the fourth-largest bank in the Knoxville MSA in terms of deposits.

The firm began operations in a single location in downtown Nashville, TN, in October 2000 and has since grown to approximately $42.0 billion in assets as of December 31, 2022. As the second-largest bank holding company headquartered in Tennessee, Pinnacle operates in 15 primarily urban markets across the Southeast.

Additional information concerning Pinnacle, which is included in the Nasdaq Financial-100 Index, can be accessed at

About Regions Financial Corporation

Regions Financial Corporation (NYSE:RF), with $158 billion in assets, is a member of the S&P 500 Index and is one of the nation’s largest full-service providers of consumer and commercial banking, wealth management, and mortgage products and services. Regions serves customers across the South, Midwest and Texas, and through its subsidiary, Regions Bank, operates approximately 1,300 banking offices and more than 2,000 ATMs. Regions Bank is an Equal Housing Lender and Member FDIC. Additional information about Regions and its full line of products and services can be found at