As the COVID-19 pandemic continues its decimation of the US economy, many small businesses have been left in the lurch. The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) is no longer an option — it shut down to new applicants on August 8 — and the federal government has been locked in a stalemate over the program’s replacement since July.
Thankfully, many state, county, and city governments are attempting to stimulate their local economies by dipping into funding delivered by the CARES Act, the same $2 trillion-plus piece of legislation that ushered in the PPP. Most commonly, local governments have been setting up grant programs for nearby small businesses.
These programs can range in size depending on the area, but frequently offer small businesses the ability to receive grants worth up to $10,000 (or even more in some situations). Grants can be especially lucrative for small businesses — unlike a loan, a grant is essentially “free money” that doesn’t need to be repaid.
There may also be requirements regarding how funds can be used — such as on covering employee payroll, paying rent, or making COVID-related safety improvements. Additionally, only businesses that can show how COVID-19 has impacted their revenue or business model may be eligible.
Here’s a few examples of CARES Act small business grant programs recently announced by local governments:
- Atlanta: More than $18 million in funding is provided for small businesses located in Atlanta. Up to $40,000 per grant is available and applications are open until August 31. The city is running the grant program through its development authority, Invest Atlanta.
- Blue Earth County, Minn.: This southern Minnesota county is offering $10,000 grants to cover three months of expenses for locally owned businesses. Applications via the county website are open until September 2.
- Harrisonburg, Va.: The city’s economic development wing has set aside $750,000 in funding for area businesses. Grants of up to $10,000 are available. Applications will be accepted through August 27.
- Henderson, Nev.: $1 million has been allocated for small business grants. Local businesses with 20 or fewer employees can apply for grants between $2,500 and $10,000 through Henderson Now, the city’s economic development branch. Applications close on August 24.
- Onondaga County, N.Y.: $500,000 in grant funds is available through the county’s industrial development agency. Companies with fewer than 50 employees may apply for up to $10,000 grants.
States are also getting in on the act. For instance, the state of New Jersey just announced that over $15 million in funding will go to businesses located in counties that didn’t receive direct federal aid.
Illinois recently dispersed $46 million in grant money to several thousand businesses. The state has plans for additional funding rounds in the future.
Pennsylvania received over 50,000 applications during an initial round of grant funding. With such a keen interest surrounding the $200 million earmarked for business grants, the state is currently accepting a second slate of applicants through August 28.
Where To Find CARES Act Small Business Grants
Every local government introduces and announces its grant programs differently. This makes it difficult to provide blanket advice to cover every situation. However, there are still a few general tips that may help businesses in need of grant money.
The first place to look is on local government websites. In many cases, government sites will have an easy-to-spot link to COVID-related coverage right on the front page. Local governments may also use alert banners near the top of their sites to highlight relevant COVID-19 resources.
Local news outlets are another great resource for discovering regional grants. City newspapers, regional magazines, and local news stations often post articles on their websites when a local government announces a grant program. By reading local news sites daily or following their social media accounts, business owners may be able to stay on top of local grant programs better than they might otherwise.
Other Small Business Grant Ideas
Businesses have other avenues to seek grant funding. Visit Merchant Maverick’s guide to small business grants for more inspiration. Startups may want to check out our article on startup-specific grants. There are also grants aimed at minority-owned businesses.
Women-run businesses have a few grant options as well. The nonprofit Women Who Tech is accepting grant applications for startup firms led by women through August 23.
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