Larry Turnley of Refuse Engineers

L arry Turnley, a client of the TSBDC at Tennessee State University, was released from prison after serving 20 years for a first-time nonviolent crime. Turnley returned to North Nashville, the community with the highest rate of incarceration in the United States—a community where one in seven people born between 1980 and 1986 have been incarcerated at some point during their lives. Turnley immediately began working for a solid waste removal firm during weekdays, parking cars as a valet during the evening hours, and washing garbage trucks on Saturdays and Sundays. For three years, he worked seven days a week, day and night, without taking a day off and saved just over $100,000. With sufficient cash to invest, Turnley was able to purchase a home. Next, with equity in a home and cash ($50,000) to invest in a start-up business, he requested assistance from the TSBDC.  


The TSBDC team worked closely with Turnley to develop a business plan and market analysis for Refuse Engineers, his new start-up solid waste removal firm. With the business growing, Turnley recently hired two full-time employees, and the TSBDC staff helped write job descriptions and secure the necessary workers’ compensation insurance.  


In anticipation of continued growth, the TSBDC team is working with Citizens Bank & Trust (the oldest continuously operating minority-owned bank in the U.S.) to secure a $50,000 line of credit for Refuse Engineers. Against the odds, Turnley overcame the stigma of a criminal record—one of the most significant barriers to successful reentry and reintegration—to start and grow a successful business.  

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