Tallgrass Meat Co., which has become the anchor location to purchase locally sourced meats in Columbia, was named as the 2020 Small Business Startup of the Year.
Tallgrass, not only survived, but thrived during COVID, working tirelessly to provide the Maury County community and beyond with a brick and mortar shop to purchase locally sourced meats and dairy products from surrounding farms in Middle Tennessee.
“My commitment of the business is to provide the best quality and consistency possible and make sure that each person who walks in our store receives the same level of service that we can offer,” Tallgrass Meat Co. owner Casey Weber said. “I think Columbia has been a welcoming community from the beginning and that’s something that we have been blessed to have the opportunity to serve. I think it’s more a testament to Columbia than Tallgrass.”
The Small Business Administration, Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, and the Tennessee Small Business Development Center awarded Weber with the Small Business Startup of the Year award for 2020 at a reception at the Tennessee State Museum on Nov. 10.
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In a separate ceremony, staff members from the Tennessee Small Business Development Center at MTSU visited Weber at Tallgrass Meat Company to deliver the SBA award.
“Casey Weber’s grit, resilience, and commitment to excellence have been key to his success; we have no doubt that his business will continue to thrive,” Amelia Bozeman, director of the TSBDC MTSU Service Center, said.
“I am just thankful for the opportunity to apply for such an award and be honored with being selected for the whole state of Tennessee. I am thankful for all who made it a possibility,” Weber said.
Maury County Chamber and Economic Alliance Vice President of Economic Development Travis Groth addressed the strong community support Tallgrass has experienced.
“For good reason, Tallgrass Meat Co. has been warmly welcomed by the community,” Groth said. “The last few years have been challenging for all small businesses. It truly makes my heart glad to see Tallgrass Meat Co. receive this public recognition in light of their perseverance and commitment to high quality product and customer service.”
Weber came to the TSBDC in 2017 with the idea of opening a local butcher shop in Columbia. His vision was to butcher and smoke meats in-house as well as to feature locally sourced meats and food products. Weber has approached his business holistically.
He grew up in a family-owned meat locker business and spent several years working in the meat industry. He also holds a Ph.D. in Human Nutrition from Kansas State University.
Weber’s Tallgrass Meat Company was nominated for the prestigious award by the TSBDC’s MTSU Service Center, led at the time by Chris Swoner, and Kayla Miller, who served as the center’s associate director. Since that time, both Swoner and Miller have moved to the TSBDC statewide positions of financial reporting and accounting manager and associate state director, respectively.
“After work with the TSBDC to refine his plan and understanding of the business, Casey successfully received an SBA 7a loan for $200,000. Combined with his personal investment, Casey was able to begin making Tallgrass Meat Company a reality,” Miller said. Upon his nomination, Casey said that the TSBDC “was critical in establishing a well-presented and meticulously evaluated business plan to understand and address barriers.”
Tennessee Small Business Development Center’s mission is to be the premier provider of quality solutions to potential and existing small businesses’ needs through consultation, education, referral, and support services.
In addition to its local meat including chicken, pork, beef, lamb and more, the shop carries local goods from area shops like Muletown Coffee, goat cheese from Noble Springs Dairy and The Nashville Jam Co. to name a few.