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Grants for Starting a Business

Author: galoozis Date: November 16, 2010

Funding sourcesThere’s a lot of information out there about government grants. The purpose of grants is to give a boost  to  public and private organizations that are carrying out a specific task—for example, developing technology to fight Type 1 Diabetes or helping clean up an oil spill. In other words, you will need to demonstrate a clear programming purpose or objective that the money will be used to accomplish.

If you think your small business could benefit from a government grant, here are five places to start:

1. Grants.gov

This federal website is the No. 1 place to search and apply for government grants. It has information about 1,000 programs that dole out $500 billion in grants each year. Like any government website, it’s not the easiest to navigate, and the process can be confusing for a first-time applicant. First, try searching the database by topic to see if any grants could be awarded to your business. Next, follow the guide for applicants to make sure you’re taking the right steps. 

2. State grants

State governments also give out their fair share of grants. While most state grants go to cities, counties and municipal agencies, some are awarded to the private sector. For example, California offers grants that help small farms use preferred pesticides. Use this list to find out the grants your state provides.

3. Tech grants

The Small Business Administration helps funnel grants to small tech firms through two programs: the Small Business Innovation Research program and the Small Business Technology Transfer program. Together, they’ve awarded about $2 billion to small businesses. Unfortunately, the SBA’s website does not provide a central hub to search for these grants. However, it provides a list of the federal agencies that participate in these programs as well as the agencies’ Web pages that relate to grants. (Also try SBIR.gov.)

4. Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance

This federal website overlaps a bit with Grants.gov, as it includes a robust database of grants. But its also includes loans and non-monetary assistance from the federal government. Search by keyword, program, agency, funding type and more.

5. Work force training funds

If you don’t think any government grants will apply to your small business, try tapping government funds for work force training. Every state has a work force development office that helps public and private organizations properly train their work force, typically for high-demand but low-supply positions. For example, Illinois-based manufacturing company Alberto-Culver received $348,000 in stimulus funds to provide project management training for its works. The easiest way to find these funds: Search “work force training funds” with your state’s name.

Related resource: Government Grants 101
 

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