Job Creation Grants
by Davidh, Community Moderator
- Created: June 29, 2011, 9:44 am
By David Hall
A big part of the American Dream is the possibility of owning and running your business. That, of course, takes money, which begs the question how to finance your dream.
There’s a widespread misconception, fueled by (sometimes unscrupulous) late-night infomercials, that there is money galore out there in the form of grants to start or expand your own business. While the popular, wishful approach to financing your business with OPM, Other People’s Money, is certainly attractive, it usually doesn’t work that way, and those infomercials, books and publications promising free money from the government are misleading at best.
Now, that doesn’t mean there are no grants out there for people to benefit from. As a matter of fact, it is true that there are many sources of grant money, both public and private, available to those who know where to look, qualify and know how to compete for it. The big misconception we want to dispel here right upfront is that the government has grant money to give out to current or potential entrepreneurs to start or expand their businesses. It is not true.
The government, however, does provide grant money to help businesses, indirectly, and in the process create jobs, which is essential to a healthy economy.
The key to understanding how this works is the word “indirectly.” The federal government, through many of its agencies, provides grant money to state governments, non-profit organizations, educational, civic and faith-based institutions whose mission is to provide assistance mostly for affordable housing, social services and economic development within a community.
Use the Loans and Grants Search Tool to view a full list of programs for which you might qualify.
The subject of federal and state grants to pursue all the goals mentioned above would be too broad to tackle here, so let’s focus exclusively on grants for business assistance and job creation.
Business-related, job-creating grants
If the government doesn’t give out grants to businesses, how then does it help businesses and job creation through grants?
As explained above, the federal government, through its agencies, provides grants to entities which, in turn, assist small businesses and promote job creation.
The SBA is the main federal agency in charge of helping small businesses start, grow and succeed. While most of SBA’s financial assistance is in the form of guaranteed loans, the SBA does provide grants to resource partners and non-profit intermediary lenders that help small businesses not only financially but also –and in some cases mainly- with training and counseling.
Grants to lending institutions
Among SBA’s financial assistance programs, the Microlending program is probably among the most popular with startups and businesses that need relatively small amounts of money. Non-profit, micro lending institutions associated with SBA can make small business loans up to $50,000 for working capital, purchasing inventory, supplies, equipment, machinery or furniture. These intermediaries are required to provide technical assistance and counseling to the small business borrower to improve their chances of success. The SBA gives grants to these intermediaries to help finance the technical assistance. The SBA does not give grants to small businesses, small business owners, or other individuals under this program.
The Small Business Innovation and Research program is a trans-agency initiative that helps small businesses explore their technological potential and benefit from its commercialization. There are 11 federal agencies that are required by law to set aside part of their Research and Development budgets and award it, through competition, to small businesses involved in R&D in certain areas such as defense, health care, and environmental protection, among others. The SBA coordinates and directs the program, reviews the agencies’ progress and reports on it to Congress.
Grants for technical assistance, training and counseling to small businesses
Many of SBA’s services to small businesses are delivered through resource partners that, by their very nature, are closely involved in the economic development of the communities they serve. These resource partners are the Women Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers and SCORE. All these organizations receive grant money from the SBA to help small businesses start, grow and succeed and, in the process, create jobs.
The main service offered by WBCs, SBDCs and SCORE chapters is low-cost training and free business counseling to businesses that are either starting up or already in operation. The grant money provided by SBA goes to finance those activities. Businesses using these services attribute growth in sales and profitability to the support they receive.
So, yes, there is grant money to help small businesses, but as a current or future business owner, it is important that you know the nature, source and purpose of those grants.
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