If you are a small business, especially a newer small business, there’s a good chance you need additional working capital to fund your endeavor. However, that’s not always easy to come by. Indeed, you can apply for small business loans, but if you’re not in a position to pay that loan back, that can get tricky. Many smaller companies will look into small business grants. Small business grants offer free money that companies can use for several things. And often, even if you are a startup, you can still qualify for certain business grants.
The thing to keep in mind about small business grants is that they are competitive and there is a bit of work required both in researching which grants might apply to you and also in applying for those grants. Again though, we are talking about free money here. This is money you do not have to pay back. And for many companies, this is a perfect thing.
Federal Small Business Grants
There are a number of federal agencies that do, in fact, offer grants to smaller companies. These can range from medical and health-based grants to educational grants to environmental grants. The key again is to do your research, see what works in terms of your company, and be serious about the application process. Often, applications for grants can have a number of moving parts and be quite time-consuming. So definitely keep this in mind.
This is one site where small businesses might want to start in terms of identifying federal-based grants that are relevant to their company. This site can lead you to grants through the Department of Education or Veterans Affairs.
USDA Rural Business Development Grants
Fortunately, the Department of Agriculture is very enthusiastic about helping smaller businesses located in rural communities. In order to qualify for one of these small business grants, you must be located in an area considered eligible by the USDA.
The National Institute of Health often runs programs where they fund grant opportunities for medical and healthcare-related research. They will sometimes have multiple grants at any one given time. So you may want to check out their website to look into deadlines and criteria.
Small Business Innovation Research program
This is another popular federal grant for small businesses. The focus here is technological research and development. In addition to grants, there are contract opportunities with federal government agencies.
Small Business Grants at the State Level
Small Business Development Centers
Each state generally has a local SBDC. If you are an entrepreneur, you can go to them to learn about opportunities that may be available as far as financing and grants. They also offer counseling and training in some instances.
STEP Grant Programs
STEP stands for State Trade Expansion Program. This is run by the SBA and they fund state governments implementing a STEP program. The amount of funding will vary from state to state. But this is ideal for those smaller businesses looking to expand internationally.
Major Corporate Business Grants Available
Beyond just looking into state and federal government grant opportunities, there are major corporations that fund annual grants for smaller businesses. For example, the FedEx small business grant contest awards over $250,000 to a total of 10 small businesses. These have to be for-profit businesses with less than 100 employees and that have been in operation for at least six months.
Visa also offers its grant program called the Visa Everywhere Initiative. This is a competition that looks to tech-based companies across the globe. The key here is that you have to have developed something that integrates a Visa product.
Comcast RISE focuses on startup businesses and is given out quarterly. You need to be located within a Comcast service area and your business has to be 51% owned by a minority or a woman.
As you can see there are a multitude of grant opportunities available for small businesses in the United States. Again, it’s a matter of doing your research and paying attention to the details associated with the application. The details really are everything. But if you do win a grant, remember this is free money, money you do not have to pay back.
First Union Lending is Here for You
We work with small businesses across the United States. Our loan programs are fast and flexible, and geared towards small businesses. And most of our clients get funded within two business days. Yes, we do work that quickly. We are invested in growing relationships with small companies. It is why we do what we do. Call today and let’s get started.