QUESTION: I understand there are grants available to small businesses. What’s involved and how do I go about applying for one?
ANSWER: You can locate and apply for grants at government agencies, state organizations and private corporations. A good place to start is the government database www.grants.gov. Your local Small Business Development Center is also a good resource.
Grants.gov is a database of grants administered by various government agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Education and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs focus on technology innovation and scientific research. They help connect you with federal grants and contracts from twelve government agencies.
To qualify you must operate a for-profit business of no more than 500 employees and meet other eligibility requirements
Small Business Development Centers provide support for aspiring entrepreneurs. They are often associated with local universities or your state’s economic development agency, and can connect business owners with financing opportunities.
Many corporations and large companies offer grants to for-profit companies. FedEx awards $250,000 to twelve small businesses. The 2021 competition opened on February 16, 2021.
National Association for the self-employed members can apply for monthly small-business grants worth up to $4,000. Grants are awarded year-round with applications reviewed in January, April, July and October.
In general, grant qualifications depend on the awarding organization. Priority may be given to businesses in rural or low-income areas and those run by women, veterans and minorities. Be sure to read the eligibility criteria before applying to determine if your business qualifies.
Beware of scams - The old adage “if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is” is something to take seriously. If an individual contacts you about an opportunity to obtain free money in the form of a grant from the federal government, be extremely wary. You are likely being targeted as part of a scam. Any of the following statements should put you on high alert:
Before applying for a grant and providing information like your social security or employer identification number, take the time to ensure the validity of the source. Red flags may include a fee or an application requiring nothing but your personal or business information.
Grants.gov has a list of sites you can access to watch for and report scams. The Better Business Bureau has a scam tracker website that tracks scams in your local area.
Gray Poehler is a volunteer with SCORE Naples. Business counseling on this and other business matters is available, without charge, from the Naples Chapter of SCORE. Call (239) 430-0081 or visit https://naples.score.org/mentors .The SCORE business office is located at 900 Goodlette Road North, in the Fifth Third branch bank building.