This article first appeared on the Business Journals’ website.
The Small Business Administration officially closed its Paycheck Protection Program to new loan applications at the end of May, and subsequently closed its Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant program in early July, leaving small business owners with dwindling options for relief.
But there are still some grant programs across the government that are still open, providing avenues for critical dollars for eligible small businesses – from COVID-19 relief programs like the SBA’s Targeted EIDL Advance and the Community Navigator Pilot program to other programs like the Rural Innovation Stronger Economy Grant and the America’s Seed Fund. Here’s a breakdown of small-business grant programs and what small-business owners need to know about each one.
The SBA’s Targeted EIDL Advance grant program
This grant program offers up to $10,000 to small business owners hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and who are located in low-income neighborhoods. The smallest businesses also might be eligible for an additional $5,000 grant through the SBA’s supplemental advance.
Despite having $30 billion for the targeted advance, the agency has only funded just more than $2 billion, leaving plenty in the program. The SBA opened up the Targeted EIDL Advance to all eligible businesses June 14, but small business owners need to apply for an economic injury disaster loan to get it, although they do not have to accept the loan once approved.
The SBA’s Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program
This grant program still has billions of dollars left, having first opened in April but having had to shut down again before reopening to applicants. It has received 14,884 applications for about $11.7 billion in funding — billions short of the more than $16 billion Congress allocated to the program, according to data as of midday July 6.
But the agency has been slower to send out the money, with about 4,222 grants awarded so far for approximately $3.2 billion and about $2 billion disbursed so far.
Interested applicants can find more details and apply here.
The SBA’s Community Navigator Pilot Program
The SBA has already extended the deadline on this $100 million grant program designed to connect small businesses with SBA assistance and programs.
The Community Navigator Pilot Program will offer grants of $1 million to $5 million to eligible organizations to provide counseling, networking and to serve as an informal connection to agency resources to help small businesses recover from the economic devastation wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The original deadline to apply for these grants was July 12, but that has been extended to July 23. The agency anticipates making awards under the program in September
The Rural Innovation Stronger Economy Grant Program
The Department of Agriculture is offering grants of up to $2 million to help build new businesses and create high-paying jobs in rural areas.
The $10 million grant program is open to nonprofits, state governments, public bodies and higher education institutions, as well as rural jobs accelerator partnerships that have expertise in providing economic and jobs training programs. The grant money can be used to build or support a business incubator, provide worker training to create new jobs, train existing workers to build skills in higher-paying jobs, or help train workers for new industries.
Grants are a minimum of $500,000, according to the USDA. Applications are due no later than August 2, 2021.
Grant applicants can contact their local USDA Rural Development State Office for more information about the program or how to apply.
America’s Seed Fund, powered by the National Science Foundation
The grant program, open to early-stage companies that need to prove their technology and find their market potential, has made about 3,400 awards to startups and small businesses since 2012, with 153 exits by those companies and $9.1 billion in private investment.
It funds roughly 400 companies every year in fields such as robotics, advanced materials, cloud computing, digital health, semiconductors and artificial intelligence, but what they are really looking for are ideas that have the potential to change the world, said Ben Schrag, senior program director for the SBIR/STTR programs and oversees the seed fund at the agency.
Applicants are quickly screened for their initial idea, and if they win through a subsequent and more competitive process, they could get an initial grant of up to $256,000, with the possibility of more than $1 million in follow-up funding to help commercialize the idea.
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small B
usiness Technology Transfer (STTR) programs
These grant programs are highly competitive, and are meant to encourage American small businesses to engage in federal research with the intent on commercializing their products. The grants are for qualified small businesses that are majority-owned by just one person and have fewer than 500 employees, according to the SBA.
Together these programs spend more than $3.6 billion a year, according to the SBA. there are 5,000 new awards every year, with initial grants ranging from $50,000 to $250,000, with larger grants available later to help build prototypes.
Small business owners can find more information on how to apply, and with which federal agencies, here.