Small Business Federal Grants

It's important to know that the U.S. Federal Government, as a rule, does not award federal grants to private for-profit small businesses. Unless you are a 501C3 non-profit agency that is organized for charitable purposes and tax exempt under the IRS tax code, your small business is not eligible for federal grants.

That's the bad news. The good news is there are federal resources available for qualified small businesses to apply for.

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal agency created in 1953 to help Americans start, build and grow businesses. The SBA serves people in the United States, American Samoa, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam. Although the SBA does not award grants to start or expand small businesses, they do have a wide range of loan programs available. You can access the Small Business Administration website at sba.gov. You can also find SBA programs in Federal Programs - Small Business Administration (SBA).

The SBA does have an exception to the "no federal grants" rule for small businesses, but it is targeted to innovation research and high technology companies. The Small Business Innovation Research Program is a highly competitive program that funds the startup and commercial development stages of an innovative technology, product or service. The Small Business Technology Transfer Program is another competitive program that funds awards to small businesses which partner with nonprofit research institutions for the commercialization of technology products.

Below is just a portion of the SBA programs that may be able to help American small businesses. The Small Business Administration is primarily a guarantor of loans, meaning that the federal government does not loan money directly to small businesses; they guarantee the loans made by lending institutions to qualified small businesses, making it easier for small businesses to qualify for loans they might not otherwise be eligible for.

1. 504 Certified Development Loans: Provides long-term fixed-rate financing to small businesses to acquire real estate, machinery or equipment for expansion or modernization. These loans are usually delivered through a Certified Development Company (CDC) with liens placed on the collateral and a contribution of 10% equity from the borrower.

2. 7(A) Export Loan Guarantees: This program aids and assists small-business to increase their ability to compete in international markets by enhancing their ability to export; facilitating technology transfers; enhancing their ability to complete effectively and efficiently against imports; increasing the access of small businesses to long-term capital for the purchase of new plant and equipment used in the production of goods and services involved in international trade. Loan proceeds can be used to construct, expand, or convert facilities; to purchase building equipment or materials; inventory and for export working capital.

3. 7(A) Loan Guarantees: Loan proceeds can be used for working capital, machinery and equipment, furniture and fixtures, land and building (including purchase, renovation and new construction), leasehold improvements, and debt refinancing under special conditions. Loan maturity is usually up to 10 years for working capital and 25 years for fixed assets. This loan targets start-up and existing small businesses.

4. Microloan Program: These loans target women, low-income, and minority entrepreneurs, business owners, and other individuals possessing the capability to operate successful business concerns and to assist small business concerns in those areas suffering from a lack of credit due to economic downturns. Provides short-term loans up to $35,000 for working capital, inventory, supplies, furniture, fixtures, machinery or equipment.

A writer Jack Lambert maintains a site on FedProgramSearch.com

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