Business Grants: Where to Find
By Joseph Lizio
Grants for Small Businesses
With the downturn in the economy there has been no shortage of rumors of government grants to help struggling businesses. While they do actually exist, grants are not easily obtained. Here's what you need to know about the availability of government grants and where you can go to look for them.
Since the market recession took hold some 18 months ago, there has been a tremendous amount of talk regarding grants for business owners. And, with that talk there comes a lot of confusion.
Most government grants programs are not designed to provide capital directly to business owners, although there are a few exceptions. Most federal grant programs provide money to state and local government entities (state, city, county) for them to distribute out into their communities. These grant funds come with many rules and are usually only provided to businesses that are either non-profit or that provide products and service that the local governments deem necessary for their areas – like road construction (as there are not many non-profit road construction companies).
There are very few government grants that go directly to business owners, especially if the business owner just simply wants to start or grow their for-profit business that does not provide services that benefit everyone at large.
However, the recent stimulus plan did provide some companies in some areas direct funding – like some recreational vehicle manufactures in the mid-west. These companies were deemed by our government to be in the utmost need and it was an action that was meant to save jobs and entire communities, as many of these communities relied on these manufacturers completely (no other industry to replace those vehicle makers should they shut down). Plus, they (the industry) were able to lobby the government for help – something that most small business owners cannot do on their own.
For those businesses seeking grants, there are still a few options not including the standard innovation research grants or non-profit grants (programs like SBIR/STTR or grants.gov) that could possibly offer business owners some support:
Also, several states are stepping up to help their local small businesses – like California and Texas. These states realize that their fortunes and the prosperity of their people rely heavily on the foundation of small businesses and are working to fill a needed funding gap.
Lastly, if your business is seeking grant funding, don’t be afraid to look at and contact other businesses - usually large multi-national companies like MillerCoors or IBM. Many of these large organizations provide grants funds to businesses in their local communities or for businesses that provide products and services that can make larger business’ operations better. Some not only provide grant funds but may become your best customer as well.
When seeking grants realize that there are many, many grants out there but the majority are not designed for or cannot be accessed by your average Main Street business. If you feel that grants are your business' best chance to survive, do your research and homework on the opportunity. There are still grant funds available for small businesses, but it will take work and effort on the owner's part to find them. Grant money is free in the sense of not having to pay it back, but you still have to work for it.