Myths surround the idea that grants to expand a business are plentiful. While there are billions of dollars in federal grant money available, most of these funds go to State governments, large non-profits, and educational institutions. Business expansion grants are not available from the federal government.
Those who perpetuate the myth of business expansion grants are usually grant writing businesses that want to sell you a product. Unless they can link you to a government grant opportunity, they are only looking to expand their business.
The Small Business Administration (SBA.gov) states on its web site that there are no federal grants for small business. However, it will provide businesses with information on loans, financing, and State and local grants.
Government Grants to Businesses
There is some assistance for business expansion available on the State and local level. These grant programs were designed to revitalize neighborhoods, assist low and moderate income neighborhoods, and advance community development. The Community Development Block Grant, for example, provides grants to create housing and jobs for people of lower incomes. A small business could form a public-private partnership and apply for funds. The business is encouraged to make a profit as long as it coincides with jobs and housing creation.
Federal government agencies typically grant money to States and local areas, who then re-grant that money to local organizations. Therefore, it is important to have a relationship with the State or local point-of-contract in applying for funds. Requests for Proposals may be released on the federal, State, and local level. It is probably best to apply for local competitions because there is a better chance of funding.
Know Your Community
It is virtually impossible to win a government grant for business expansion without the good will of the local community, non-profits, businesses, and politicians. Typically, business expansion grants are given within a larger community and economic strategy. It is important to understand the economic issues that affect your neighborhood. For example, if your business is in a neighborhood that lacks a particular service, such as a park, you can propose a building or landscaping project. If your business can improve community safety, vitality and economic growth, then you can make a case to win an expansion grant.
Some businesses do not strictly serve a geographic community, but a specific market. Building relationships with the government agencies engaged in that market will help in identifying and securing grants.