It can be challenging to find funding when you have a small business. There are solutions: small business grants. This free money is designated for startups, and it can help you get your ideas off the ground. These funds are available from federal, state, and private entities. Here are a few things you need to know about applying for and receiving these grants for your business.
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Federal Small Business Grants
The federal government is one of the biggest distributors of business grants. These funds can support many startups and enterprises, such as child care services to environmental distributors. The application process might seem intimidating, but these federal grants are the perfect way to help small business owners grow.
One place to start is by heading over to Grants.gov. This comprehensive database lists grant programs from several different governmental agencies, including Veterans Affairs and the Department of Education.
Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs are two other great websites. The SBIR and the STTR grants focus on research and development for scientific and technological innovation. These programs will help small businesses connect to federal grants from 11 government agencies.
USDA Rural Business Development Grants help small businesses strengthen and grow their enterprises in rural communities. If your company has less than 50 employees, less than $1 million in gross revenue, and is located in a rural area, you can apply. Applicants will need to apply to the USDA Rural Development program at the local or state level.
State and Regional Small Business Grants
Like the federal funding, you can find plenty of state and region-level small business grants.
The Department of Commerce provides financial assistance, resources, and grants through its Economic Development Administration. Small Business Development Centers can also help aspiring entrepreneurs and small businesses. Many of these programs are associated with a specific state economic development agency or local university. Most of them will have the resources to point you in the right direction with funding.
Minority small business owners should look at the Minority Business Development Agency. The MBDA operates a national network of centers to help promote and grow minority-owned businesses by securing contracts and accessing capital.
If you are located in a specific state, there are plenty of resources for small business funding.
- California Dream Fund: Small business owners must complete an intensive training course at participating Technical Assistance Expansion Program centers. After that, the business owner can apply for a grant of up to $10,000.
- Restaurants Care Resilience Fund: This annual grant program supports independently-owned businesses in the state. Eligible owners may receive up to $3,000 to retain employees or upgrade their kitchen equipment. To qualify, the restaurant must be owned by a state resident, make under $3 million in revenue, and have been open for one year. They must also be customers of Pacific Gas and Electric, SoCalGas, or San Diego Gas & Electric.
- Florida High Tech Corridor Research Grant: Any Florida business focused on research and technology can apply for a grant of up to $150,000. The business owner must work together with a researcher from the University of South Florida or the University of Central Florida to be eligible. These businesses must also focus on research projects that support the development of new technology for the average consumer. You can combine these grants with any funding provided by the STTR or SBIR programs.
- Prospera Business Grants: This non-profit organization focuses on providing bilingual support to Hispanic applicants in the state. The grant programs allow small business owners to receive free professional development services, accounting help, and legal assessments. The owners can also take advantage of branding development, marketing assistance, and financial consulting. Prospera will also award grants to small business owners based on their needs.
- Miami-Dade County Mom and Pop Small-Business Grants: Small businesses in the Miami-Dade County area can apply for grants that can be used for a variety of purposes, such as supplies, inventory, marketing advertising, renovations, and equipment. If you want to apply for these grants, your business needs to be located in one of the 13 county commission districts and meet all of the eligibility criteria established by that particular district.
- City of Orlando Business Assistance Program: To help promote redevelopment and expansion, the City of Orlando has a grant program that will match 50% of the fees assessed to small businesses for their improvement projects. These improvements can include street lighting, sidewalk repair, water and sewer line construction, gutter development, and curb repairs. In addition to that, the small business owners must have the proper permits and get city approval before they apply for this financing. Only certain businesses in specific industries can apply for these grants.
- Global NY Fund Grant Program: You can receive up to $25,000 for your small business through this grant. However, this funding is only available for those trying to increase their global exports or start in the exporting industry. This grant will reimburse you up to 50% of the total project costs for participation in expert workshops, trade shows, and market customization. If you want to qualify, your business must have less than 500 people and have been operating for less than a year. You also must demonstrate an intention to expand to start exporting in the global marketplace.
- New York Public Library StartUP! Business Plan Competition: This annual small business grant competition for startup entrepreneurs is for applicants in Staten Island, the Bronx, and Manhattan. All applicants must submit a business plan, and they also must attend a training workshop. Plus, the applicant needs to schedule a meeting with a business librarian and business advisor. These entrepreneurs can win $15,000. The Queens Economic Development Corporation and Brooklyn Public Library also run similar grant programs for applicants in those areas.
- CitizensNYC Neighborhood Business Grants: This organization offers two grant programs to support the community and businesses in New York City. The Neighborhood Business Grant provides up to $10,000 to fund the needs of small businesses, including hiring workers, marketing services, and technical upgrades. This program prioritizes small business owners who are immigrants, women, or persons of color. The All in Neighborhood Grant offers microgrants up to $5,000 for community building projects that improve and address issues in the community.
- Texas Workforce Commission Skills for Small Business Program: Small business owners in Texas with newly hired workers can apply for grants. This funding can be used to cover any employee training. The program will give businesses up to $1,800 per new employee for training. The grants will cover training for existing employees for $900 per year. The training must be provided by the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service or a public or technical college. For a small business to qualify, it must have less than 100 employees.
- Texas State Trade Expansion Program Grant: Any Texas business that wants to expand their exporting to break into the industry can apply for a grant. The grants can pay for certain costs, such as interpreter fees, compliance testing, shipping costs, marketing analysis fees, and travel costs. For a business to qualify, the business must have been in business for over a year, be in good standing with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, meet the SBA’s definition of small business, and have a service or product recreated within the state.
- Center for Women Entrepreneurs Veteran Woman Grant: Female Texas veterans starting or owning a business are eligible for these programs. They can receive up to $5,000 in funding, and they can use the money for many purposes, such as purchasing equipment, property improvements, advertising campaigns, and technology upgrades. To qualify, the small business owner must show that 51% of the company is controlled and owned by a woman. Along with that, they must provide documentation of their veteran status.
Corporate Small Business Grants
In addition to grants from federal and state governments, small business owners might qualify for corporate grants. Many of these corporations and companies have philanthropic endeavors that allow them to provide money for small businesses.
- FedEx Small Business Grant Contest: This company awards over $250,000 to small businesses, including a $50,000 grant to three grand prize winners. The contest is only for U.S.-based for-profit small businesses with no more than 100 employees and has been operating for at least six months.
- National Association for the Self-Employed: Members of the NASE can apply for small business grants worth up to $4,000. There is also a chance to win a $3,000 college scholarship for dependents of the members. These grants are awarded throughout the year, but the applicants are only accepted every quarter.
- Fast Break for Small Business: The NBA, WNBA, and LegalZoom have partnered with the Accion Opportunity Fund to provide $10,000 in grants to small business owners. The program focuses on helping businesses in underrepresented and underserved communities. The grant applications are open twice per year.
- Patagonia Corporate Grants Program: Any non-profits that protect and preserve the local environment can apply for grants through the Patagonia Corporate Grants Program. The retailer searches for these innovative businesses that have proposed projects with specific objectives, action plans, and goals. Many of these grants range in the $5,000 to $20,000 range.
- Visa Everywhere Initiative: This grant competition offers funding to tech startups across five regions in the world. Applicants must show that they have developed a service or product that uses Visa’s products to be eligible. Visa will select five finalists in each region. After that, the business will move forward to a global final. The overall winner will be awarded a $100,000 grant. There are also grants for the second-and third-place finalist, region, and local winners.
COVID-19 Small Business Grants
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many federal, state, and private programs offered financial assistance to small businesses. Many of these programs have stopped accepting applications, but a few programs still are providing relief to business owners.
The SBA grants administered by the U.S. The Small Business Administration has closed their programs. However, some local governments still have grant programs to provide COVID-19 relief. For example, small businesses in New York can apply for financing up to $50,000 through the New York State COVID-19 Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program.
Microbusinesses in Sonoma County can apply for a grant of up to $2,500 through the California Microbusiness COVID-19 Relief Grant Program. Applicants will need to apply through the Department of Economic Development, the secretary of state office, or the government website. There are a few corporate COVID-19 grants available in the states. While most private companies have closed their COVID-19 relief programs, a few still accept applicants.
The non-profit organization Main Street America is working with American Express and the Inclusive Backing Grant Program to provide COVID-19 relief grants to those small business owners by nonbinary people, women, or veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.
Alternatives To Small Business Grants
Finding grants for your small business can be challenging. It is also a time-consuming process. If you don’t qualify for any of those grants, there are other ways to fund your small business, including:
Small business loans are available to business owners, and they include SBA loans, business lines of credit, bank loans, equipment financing, and term loans.
Small-business credit cards are the best choice to fund those everyday business purchases, and you can earn rewards in the process.
Crowdfunding for businesses is a way to raise money for your small business. By tapping into the power of the internet, you can promote your services and products while receiving money through a crowdfunding campaign.
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There are plenty of grants for small businesses on federal, state, or corporate levels. These funding options will require you to submit an application and wait for the approval. While the process can be arduous, getting the funding you need for your small business is worth it.
Did you know that your small business may qualify for R&D tax credits? Along with accessing free money, you will want to know if you are eligible for these credits. At TaxRobot, we can see if you can claim these credits for your business. Schedule your consultation today!